Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Can Liverpool really improve what is an already potent attack?
It appears as if Jurgen Klopp thinks so, that is according to journalist Duncan Castles, who is reporting that the Reds have approached Lille’s Nicolas Pepe.
A good move? Not for one former Liverpool player, who is warning everyone not to read too much into what an individual is able to achieve in a division like Ligue 1.
“I really don’t get this one,” Nicol said on ESPN FC (via Daily Express) when speaking about the rumours linking Pepe with a move to Anfield. “Yes he’s had a good season but he just doesn’t look like a Liverpool player to me.
“He’s a little unorthodox, he looks gangly. He has got it done, the stats bear that out. Unfortunately it is Ligue 1 and I’m not a huge fan of Ligue 1, I don’t think the standard is particularly great.”
Without a doubt, Ligue 1 is not exactly the strongest league in Europe. But is that really enough to dismiss Pepe’s accomplishments and write off the 24-year-old before he has even kicked a ball in the Premier League? Probably not.
After all, Ligue 1 has given English football some very talented footballers, with Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante being two standout names from recent years.
Does that mean Pepe is going to be the next Hazard? No. But he has the sort of playing style that could make him a dangerous forward in any division.
For example, the Ivory Coast international is an extremely capable dribbler. His 2.7 dribbles per game in Ligue 1 last season puts him in the top five for that statistic and is more than what Salah (2.1) and Mane (1.4) both averaged (as per WhoScored).
When you consider that, Pepe looks like he would be a terrific addition to Liverpool’s squad if Klopp wants to improve the Reds 1v1 out wide despite Nicol’s criticism.
And, the sheer amount of goals and assists he provided last season (23 & 12 respectively) surely can’t be ignored as he finished only behind Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts, pipping the likes of Neymar and Cavani, as well as finishing second in the assists chart. It seem as if he really can do it all.