FC Barcelona scouts took the chance to watch Lille play Montpellier as the team visited France to take on Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League, according to reports. The two targets that spurred the visit were two Lille forwards, Nicolas Pépé and Rafael Leão, according to both Diario SPORT and Mundo Deportivo.
Pépé was the main target. The French-born Ivorian international played on the right wing as Lille drew the match 0-0. He arrived at Lille in summer 2017, after rejecting offers from Schalke, Sevilla, and Lyon. He has sixteen goals and eight assists in Ligue 1, which has made him a target for several big European clubs.
While scouting him, Barcelona are said to have ignited their interest in Leão, who was deployed as the main striker. The Portuguese is in good form, having scored six in the past eight matches.
One advantage for Barcelona in this negotiation is that they know Marc Ingla, Lille’s director, who was a former vice president at the Catalan club. However, Lille has said that they will not let Pépé go this summer. SPORT reports that Barcelona have a deal in place with Lille in which they will be informed of any news regarding his transfer movements, and as such, they have been told that Bayern Munich made an offer for him. Things could be getting interesting.
Now, the priority is said to be to tie down Leão in some way. While he’s in great form, he’s considered too inexperienced at the moment and would likely be allowed to remain at Lille for at least one more year.