Paris Saint-Germain essentially have the Ligue 1 table on lease at the moment after spending vast sums to have the vastly superior team in French football compared to the chasing pack. But Lille, who battled at the other end of the table last season, are doing their best to keep up in second place.
One of the key reasons behind their successful season has been the form of Nicolas Pepe. There are not many better performing wingers in Europe at present than the 23-year-old Ivorian.
His record of eight goals and seven assists in 13 Ligue 1 appearances is simply astonishing and Lille have a real star on their hands.
Which should please Leeds United fans. Because the man who played a key role in bringing Pepe to the club was their current manager Marcelo Bielsa.
The Argentine saw something in the player along with his recruitment staff during his previous season at Angers.
It saw Lille bring him in but Bielsa never got a full season to work with him. His relationship with the Lille hierarchy was fraught and he was soon on his way out.
” It was an honour for me because he (Bielsa) is a great coach. He pushed me to work even harder to get there.
“He is special. He has his own tactics. He does not play games, he does a lot of video-based sessions. He is very strict. It’s something nobody knew. For us it was weird. It was a discovery. Tactically, he was very, very picky. With him, the whole team progressed.”
Pepe has proven to be a success story from his time in charge. Now he is being valued at £44 million, with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Barcelona all being linked with his signature.
Leeds will hope Bielsa’s same eye and belief have helped set one of their current crop on the way to such explosive form.
If so, then Bielsa’s impact at Leeds can hopefully resonate, even after he has gone.