Leeds United are reportedly keen on a shock move for Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe as the Whites attempt to sign a replacement for Barcelona-bound Raphinha.

What’s the word?

According to Spanish outlet Diario de Sevilla, the Elland Road club are believed to be one of the teams who are interested in landing the Cote d’Ivoire international this summer, having seen their Brazilian talisman complete a move to the Camp Nou on Friday.

The report claims that the 27-year-old – who joined the Gunners in a club-record £72m deal from Lille in 2019 – has recently changed his agent in order to potentially prompt a departure from the Emirates Stadium, having failed to truly establish himself under Mikel Arteta.

With the north London outfit likely looking to recoup some of that hefty transfer fee, the suggestion is that the asking price could be in excess of €25m (£21m), with La Liga outfit Sevilla – along with Marseille and Lyon – also said to be in the running.

Raphinha heir

There may be some in Yorshire who are scratching their heads at this possible deal, although Pepe could well prove to be the ideal heir to the departed Raphinha, with Jesse Marsch and co potentially able to offer the 27-year-old the starting berth that he has been craving at his current club.

There’s no doubting that the £22.5m-rated forward has underperformed in the Premier League over the last few years in relation to his initial cost, although some would argue that he has hardly been handed a fair crack of the whip, notably earning just five top-flight starts last season.

That lack of action appears particularly unfair when considering his impressive form during the 2020/21 campaign, in which the £140k-per-week gem registered ten goals and one assist from 29 league outings, having also provided ten goal contributions in just 13 Europa League appearances that season.

His previous form during his days in Ligue 1 also demonstrates the undoubted talent that the Ivorian wizard possesses, having chipped in with 37 goals and 18 assists in 79 games in all competitions during his time at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

That haul included a sparkling run of form in the 2018/19 campaign in which he netted 22 goals and provided 11 assists in the French top flight, with that remarkable record unsurprisingly catching the attention of those at Arsenal.

Although he hasn’t shown it consistently enough since his move to England, the 34-cap forward clearly has the quality to pose a real threat in the final third, with a fresh start potentially all that is needed to spark a career revival.

With his “lightning fast” speed – as described by radio host Kevin Egan – and a devastating left foot, the 6 foot menace possesses striking similarities to that of the aforementioned Raphinha, with the pair both at their brutal best when cutting in off the right flank.

Attempting to replicate the form of a player who provided 29 goals and assists in the league during his two-year spell with the Whites certainly won’t be easy, although Pepe appears to have the skill and quality to become a standout figure in his own right.

It would no doubt be a risk, although it could prove to be a gamble worth taking for Leeds’ sporting director Victor Orta to bring in someone who could be the perfect heir to the Brazilian.

AND in other news: Victor Orta plotting Leeds bid for “formidable” £19m sensation, he’s “one of the best”

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