Liverpool may just be checking the character of Nicolas Pepe ahead of any move for the player.
We can’t say for sure, of course, but it does appear to add up.
The Times reported recently that Liverpool had assessed his ‘willingness’ to join them with his representatives. Lille head coach Gerard Lopez even admitted recently that Liverpool had talked to the player.
Both reports made one thing clear, though: the Reds haven’t talked to Lille about a transfer for the £70m-rated player.
So why the focus on the player and not the club? Well, Liverpool may have doubts, for one thing.
Why Pepe’s character is important
And any move for Pepe would require absolute assurance over his personality and character. He’s a very talented young player expecting a big move but Liverpool can’t offer more than a support role right now.
Does he have the personality to handle that? Can he move to a big club where he’s expected to fight for a starting place behind some of the best forwards in world football?
If he can’t, the move is utterly pointless. You can’t spend £70m on a player who isn’t up for such an intense fight.
It would be another thing if he were offered the security and assurance of a starting spot – or even a starring role – but Liverpool wouldn’t want him for that. They need a player who can handle being second choice, happy to force themselves into the limelight.
Putting it all together, it does seem that Liverpool are assessing character and personality before committing to Pepe.
It’s not about him being an exciting signing or even a great player – it’s about him being the right player for Liverpool right now.