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Chelsea to rival Arsenal for Nicolas Pepe as they prepare for Eden Hazard exit

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Chelsea are already planning for Eden Hazard's potential exit this summer and have made Nicolas Pepe their top choice to replace him - though face significant competition from Arsenal.

Hazard is top of Zinedine Zidane's wish list as he looks to reinvigorate Real's squad after a disappointing campaign domestically and in Europe, while the attacker would be keen to play under the Frenchman.

That has prompted Chelsea to draw up a list of replacements, and, according to the Mirror, Lille star Pepe - who has scored 19 goals in Ligue 1 this season - is their number one target.

Bayern Munich are believed to have already held talks with Pepe's camp, while Arsenal have been tracking the 23-year-old for a long time, with axed head of recruitment Sven Mislintat a huge fan.

The problem for Chelsea is that they do not yet know if they will be banned from making transfers this summer, giving rivals a big head start over any transfer.

Interestingly, Hazard himself joined Chelsea from Lille and Pepe is enjoying a season to rival the Belgian; the latter has scored or assisted 30 league goals this season, while Hazard was involved in 36 in his final campaign in France.

Should Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League next season - they are currently in fifth place in the Premier League - Hazard will almost certainly push to join Real Madrid.

For more news relating to Arsenal, visit our sister site Arsenal Live.
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