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Nicolas Pepe, the next Eden Hazard

ANALYST
Feature
6.16K   //    17 Jan 2019, 00:30 IST

Lille have produced a lot of talents over the years, Eden Hazard being the most noticeable one of them. The Belgian joined Chelsea from Lille back in 2012 and has made 229 appearances for them. He has improved year after year in the Premier League and is arguably the best player in the League at this moment of time. This season he has managed 10 goals and 10 assists for his club. He has been linked with a move to Real Madrid since a very long time.

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Hazard joined Lille back in 2005 when he was just 14 years of age from Belgian club Tubize. He received his first professional contract in 2007 and served 5 years in France playing for Lille before moving to London in 2012. Lille has played a very big part in Hazard’s rise to one of the best players in the world. They have played a big part in his development overall. Just like Eden, there is another young winger who currently plays for Lille. He has already shown glimpses of young Eden Hazard through his performances this season. He is called Nicolas Pepe. This 23-year-old French-born Ivorian is by far Lille’s best player this season. He joined the club in 2017 from fellow French side Angers. Since joining in 2017, Pepe has scored 25 goals for his club in 54 appearances.

He is a very similar player to Eden Hazard. He likes to dribble, likes to cut inside and play short passes. One of his major strengths is his vision to initiate a perfect through pass to create a goal scoring opportunity. In his 20 appearances this season, he has scored 13 and assisted 7 goals. He also averages 3.4 shots per match, showing he has a good eye for goal. Lille surprisingly sit in 2nd in the Ligue 1 table, after fighting relegation in the recent Ligue 1 seasons. Nicolas Pepe has played a vital role in Lille’s rise to the top end of the table. Pepe sits 2nd in the top scorers list behind teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe. Last year Lille finished 17th in the Ligue 1 and are now thriving, under boss Cristophe Galtier.

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The Ivorian has already shown a lot of glimpses that he can become the next big thing in European football. He has the potential to match Hazard’s greatness in world football. He has got great skills, which is shown with how good he is with the ball at his feet. He has got 10 caps for his country Ivory Coast and he has scored 3 goals. He could be the next big thing for Ivory Coast football after Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and the Toure brothers have retired in recent years. He is young and still has a lot of developing to do, but it feels he is ready for a bigger challenge like the Premier League. Premier League clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United are hungry to add more attacking players to their side to improve their quality upfront. Pepe has got the ability to improve the attacking quality of many top teams in the world. A move to the Premier League at this moment seems to be the perfect step in Pepe’s career. He could follow in the footsteps of the ex- Lille man Eden Hazard with a move to the world's most watched league.

A number of top European clubs are interested to get this man, with reports suggesting Arsenal are ready to plot a summer move for the Ivorian to partner fellow African and also former Lille man Aubameyang upfront.

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