Arsenal outcast Nicolas Pepe is open to a permanent OGC Nice move next summer, according to L’Equipe.
Having failed to impress at the Emirates Stadium, the 27-year-old was shipped off to the French Ligue 1 club last summer, where he has started to show glimpses of his talent.
Pepe’s loan move has been reasonably successful, recording eight goals and an assist in 24 appearances across all competitions.
The Ivorian forward has three months left on his loan deal and could be pivotal to Nice’s push for a European finish as they sit six points behind fifth-place Lille.
He will have just 12 months left on his contract with Arsenal at the end of the season, and while Nice are open to the idea of an extended stay, the club reportedly wants to see more from him.
Pepe and the entire Nice team endured a rocky first half of the season where they struggled to get going under former head coach Lucien Favre.
However, they look to have found their feet under Didier Digard and are unbeaten in 11 matches since the Frenchman took the reins.
Pepe has been one of the much-improved performers in Digard’s tenure, bagging a brace in the 6-1 demolition of Montpellier in the manager’s debut.
Having spent the last two months sidelined due to a knee problem, Pepe made his comeback in the 3-1 success over Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa Conference League.
Nice manager Digard is well aware of Pepe’s qualities and is still counting on the right-winger to prove decisive this term.
“Before his injury, he remained on very good performances,” he said. “This is an advantage for us. He is an additional weapon. He is capable of making a difference at any time – we saw that against Tiraspol.
“He has a facility to eliminate his adversaries one-on-one. I think he is feared by the opponents so he can free up space for us. He is a fast player who keeps the ball well. He has many qualities.”
Arsenal have no plans to keep Pepe beyond his current contract and will be open to any potential summer departure.
But Nice are being cautious, and the next three months could be pivotal in deciding the player’s future.
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