Last week, reports out of France claimed Liverpool were in the thick of a battle to sign Lille’s Nicolas Pepe. We were skeptical. Because the story, as presented by L’Equipe, was that the Reds would sign Pepe and sell Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
Over the weekend, others in France took the story even further, claiming Liverpool were “well placed” to sign the £70M-rated 24-year-old winger from Lille—but it remained a story with plenty of warning signs for those who follow transfer news.
Namely, there were some pretty big outs. The player hadn’t made up his mind. Talks were ongoing. There was a mystery other club. Plus the bit where all this Pepe to Liverpool talk started with a story claiming a major summer overhaul for the Reds.
It’s entirely unsurprising, then, to have The Liverpool Echo today claiming not only no deal but that Liverpool have made no contact with Lille or the player—though they say that a versatile attacker is on the shopping list for Liverpool this summer.
Some will inevitably point to The Echo getting it wrong last summer when they said the Reds weren’t in for Alisson shortly before the club signed him, but here it’s different. Here, there has been nothing to suggest Liverpool are actually in for Pepe.
All there has been is talk in the French press that has lined up exactly with what Lille would leak to the French press if they were trying to start a bidding war for the player—floating Liverpool, and more than that saying the Reds will be going big.
Any story out of France that begins with “Liverpool are going to sell Salah and Mané and spend big money to sign Pepe as a replacement” as this one did should be greeted with skepticism, because it’s clear who the only beneficiary is: Lille.
The Echo now saying that story isn’t true is hardly a surprise. In fact it’s obvious. Even if some fans won’t want to admit it and we’ll surely hear more about Pepe to Liverpool before he ends up wherever he ends up. Which won’t be Liverpool.