Nicolas Pépé - The Ivorian wonder who owned Ligue 1 in September
In my mind, there are four different kinds of football players. They are as follows; general, exciting, efficient and exciting and efficient football players. I won’t dive deep into explaining their differences or similarities because like I said, they only exist in the fantasy of my mind. Nothing official. One player who definitely falls into the exciting+efficient category is one Nicolas Pepe, the 23-year-old Ivorian who pipped all the amazing footballers based in France, to the Ligue 1 Player of the Month Award for September. Yes, inclusive of Neymar and Mbappe. So who is he?
Pepe plays for Ligue 1 outfit, Lille, and has been in their books since June 2017. He was born in France to Ivorian parents and played for the lower league clubs before making a professional debut with Angers in November 2014. Remember the unwritten rule of left-footed players I made reference to in the playmaker, Hakim Ziyech’s article - Pepe also satisfies the condition. The young forward prefers playing from a wide wing position from whence he can cut inside with ease and cause all sorts of problems to opposition defenders. He is that morden winger who cuts inside and scores goals even taking up a striking role when called upon. The 23-year-old can lay up “on a silver platter” assists with a touch of a shoelace, chop down defenders with a glance and has a good enough pace to call upon in times of need. Perhaps, just like Neymar - not too much pace but one that’s deadly when combined with dribbles. Most importantly, he scores goals. From the penalty spot, outside the penalty box, one-on-ones, from wide areas, you name them. Like I said, he is exciting+efficient.
Nicolas Pepe’s dynamic style of play has seen him score 19 goals in 43 appearances for LOSC Lille in his young career. He bagged four goals and assisted one other in September 2018 to win the monthly award with three of them being a hatrick scored in 3-2 win against Amiens. Pepe became the first African player to win the award since Morocco’s Sofiane Boufal took it home in 2016. Second-placed Lille will be hoping Pepe maintains his electric form as they face Dijon in a league game on Saturday. With the partnership with 22-year-old French footballer of Ivorian descent, Jonathan Bamba looking formidable at Lille, there is no telling how far this kid will go.
Here is a short video depicting what he can do.