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Barcelona's Pepe interest confirmed by Lille

12:54 BST 22/09/2018
Nicolas Pepe Lille Amiens 09152018
The winger is wanted by the Catalan club, the Ligue 1 side's owner has confirmed, while Manchester United have also been linked with a bid

Lille owner Gerard Lopez has confirmed Barcelona's interest in Nicolas Pepe, and suggests the club may be forced to sell him in January.

Reports in Spain had claimed that Barca were monitoring the 23-year-old winger, who has burst onto the scene in Ligue 1.

Pepe has scored four goals already this season, including a stunning hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Amiens, with reports claiming Manchester United are among the clubs to be keen.

The Ivory Coast international netted 13 times last term, and Lopez has now confirmed Barcelona are one of several leading clubs showing an interest.

"It's true. Several big clubs are interested in him," he said, per RMC Sport.

"Some clubs have contacted us directly after the transfer window to know what the state of play is."

While Lopez says he wants to keep the star until the summer, he admits that a number of players may have to leave in January, due to the club's precarious finances.

"I want him to stay until the end of the season as a minimum," he said.

"We'll certainly sell (players in January). We're starting to have players who are not happy with their game time.

"If we can, we're going to sell players who have good qualities but less game time. We've got five centre-backs, for example."

Lille are currently third in Ligue 1, five points behind leaders PSG.