Arsenal looking to beat Barcelona to Lille star Nicolas Pepe with Danny Welbeck set to be axed

And that may mean an Emirates exit for Danny Welbeck, after the England international suffered a horror injury in the Europa League last month.

Welbeck is out of contract at the end of the season, and with no definite date set for his return to training Unai Emery is keen to add to his attacking options, as the Gunners push for a Champions League place.

The Arsenal boss is known to be an admirer of the 23-year-old Pepe, who has scored ten goals and made five assists in all competitions already this term.

According to French website, the Ivorian international is a transfer priority for Emery, but is unlikely to move to north London before the end of the season.

It’s thought that the likelihood of a move going ahead would depend on Arsenal qualifying for next season’s Champions League, though.

The Gunners currently lie 4th in the Premier League after their scintillating north London derby win over Spurs on Sunday.

Success in securing Pepe’s services would be a feather in the cap of Emery – but it would almost certainly mean the end of Welbeck’s Arsenal career.

Raul Sanllehi, the club’s director of football, told the Times last month: “Danny Welbeck’s injury alters the views. It’s a good time to start analysing what options we have in the market.”

Arsenal have, however, pledged Welbeck their full support in his rehabilitation, regardless of the outcome of any contract negotiations.

They may face a battle for Pepe’s signature in any event, with Barcelona reportedly also monitoring the in-demand winger.

The Catalan giants are looking to recruit themselves as Brazilian summer signing Malcom has failed to impress manager Ernesto Valverde, while Ousmane Dembele’s future at the club remains in doubt.

And Mercato365 claim that Bayern Munich may be another suitor for the Lille winger, with Arjen Robben and possibly Franck Ribery leaving the club at the end of the season.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are also said to be monitoring Pepe’s progress in Ligue 1.

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