The highly-rated Ivory Coast international forward has been heavily linked with leading sides in England but could end up heading to Italy this summer
Napoli are hoping to have edged ahead of Manchester United and Liverpool in the race for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, with the Serie A side one of four “big clubs” to have tabled a bid of €80 million (£72m/$89m).
Various destinations have been mooted for the Ivory Coast international this summer.
It is, however suitors from Serie A that have raised the stakes by meeting the demands of Pepe’s current employers in Ligue 1.
Napoli have made no secret of their interest in the 24-year-old winger, with manager Carlo Ancelotti admitting that he is hoping to see a deal pushed through.
He told reporters when quizzed on links to an exciting talent: “Obviously, we are interested in Pepe, his agents are here and there’s no point hiding that. Negotiations are in progress and we’ll see what happens.
“Pepe is a wide attacking player. We want to find someone who can play between the lines.”
Lille president Gerard Lopez has now confirmed that Napoli have met the club’s asking price for Pepe, freeing them to press ahead with transfer talks.
They are, however, not the only ones in the mix, with a man who netted 23 times across all competitions last season now in a position of being able to make a personal call on where he wants to go.
Lopez told Tuttosport: “Last year we asked Pepe to stay with the promise that we would sell in this transfer window.
“We received offers that satisfy us economically from four big clubs.
“[Napoli chairman Aurelio] De Laurentiis has satisfied our request for €80m. Now it is up to the player to decide where he wants to go.
“He must make that decision based on the offers that his agents have received from the four clubs.
“On Monday, Pepe will return from vacation and I believe that by the middle of the week he will have made a decision.”
Along with leading sides in the Premier League and Serie A, Pepe has also been linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
He must now weigh up the offers he has on the table and determine where he feels his future development will be best served.
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