Premier League • England

Wantaway Arsenal star is the key to Mikel Arteta landing top target in potential swap deal

Arsenal forwards Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal could be ready to offer Nicolas Pepe and cash to Napoli in the hope of being able to strike a deal for top target Victor Osimhen, reports have claimed.

Osimhen is on the wanted list of Gunners boss Mikel Arteta but the transfer fee involved is an issue. Napoli are said to value the strike ace at £100m and that appears to be too rich for the Gunners. Therefore technical director Edu needs to get creative if a deal is to happen.

It turns out that Pepe could be the key to getting the deal done. The winger’s switch to Arsenal has not worked out as planned and a summer exit could be on the cards. Pepe himself wants out due to a lack of first-team action.

Arsenal splashed out a club-record £72m to sign Pepe from Lille back in 2019. But they could now be ready to take a huge hit to move him on and raise some cash.

There is talk that the Gunners could accept as little as £25m to get him out of the door. That would represent a huge loss but anything raised would be put towards a deal for Osimhen.

Edu and Arteta could also have another plan that would suit all parties. Reports claim that Arsenal could offer Pepe and cash in the hope that Napoli would accept.

The Gunners think it could be possible as Napoli have shown a strong interest in Pepe previously. Indeed they came very close to signing him before Arsenal did.

Lille confirmed at the time that Napoli had matched their valuation for Pepe. It was just down to the player to decide where he wanted to go. There were four clubs in the hunt at the time. Of course Arsenal were one and Pepe opted to make the switch to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have options to move Pepe on

Arsenal are now hoping that Napoli have maintained an interest. Pepe has struggled to make an impact since the transfer. He has managed just 27 goals and 17 assists which is not the kind of return Arsenal were hoping for. There is now the possibility that Napoli may also have been put off by that record.

If Napoli are not interested then Arsenal will look to move him on elsewhere. There will be other clubs interested especially if the £25m asking price is correct. Indeed Newcastle have been urged to take a gamble in the hope he will rediscover his best form.

Talks between Arsenal and Pepe are planned for the end of the season. A final decision will be made then. But it seems as though Arsenal are already sounding out a potential swap deal with Napoli.

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