The statement by our earliest, most well-placed historian on the matter is quite unambiguous:
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1)
There's really no getting around the fact that Irenaeus is referring to the apostle John, the son of Zebedee. So is Irenaeus a reliable source?
Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus is arguably our most important external witness to Johannine authorship. He was from the part of the world where John lived in his later years (Irenaeus only moved to Gaul later in life), and was a pupil of Polycarp of Smyrna, who was a disciple of John. Irenaeus is just one link removed from apostolic testimony and, crucially, only one link removed from the author he claims wrote the Gospel of John.
Irenaeus grew up in a world saturated with John’s influence. He studied the works of Papias (another disciple of John). If Irenaeus believed John wrote John, that is enormously important historical evidence.
So did Irenaeus believe John wrote John or was he just saying that to further an agenda? In a trivial sense, anything written past or present could be a lie. The words you’re reading right now could be outright lies. I’m making arguments and citing sources in the hopes that you’ll believe my comments are both reasonable and honest.
Irenaeus has often been misrepresented by those who do not appreciate his method of argumentation. Irenaeus argues from premises to conclusions. The premises are things that are generally known, the conclusions are the things he wants to prove. His conclusions could be garbage (I think some of his conclusions are clearly not garbage, but certainly some of his conclusions do appear to be false), but that doesn’t matter for our analysis here. We really don’t care about the process of reasoning Irenaeus used to get from his premises to his conclusions—because his attestation of Johannine authorship is used as a premise!
It may take a minute for the impact of that last statement to sink in. Irenaeus uses John’s authorship of the 4th Gospel as a premise (see Against Heresies Book 3 chapter 1).
This means in his day and age (circa 180), John’s authorship of the 4th Gospel was generally known. Irenaeus is tearing apart (no joke, read Against Heresies) his opponents’ beliefs; if he cites an obviously false premise, he leaves himself open to a devastating counter-argument.
That Irenaeus can get away with baldly stating that John wrote John, without having to argue for it, in a world just 1 generation removed from John, indicates that this was a statement that was nearly incontrovertible at that time.
A trove of links for further study
For arguments that the Gospel of John was written by an eyewitness (regardless of whether or not his name was John), see books here and chapter 9 here. For a discussion of the historical validity of the Gospels in general see this book by Wallace, this video by Williams, and if you really want an extensive discussion of the relationships among the Gospels, see my video series in development here.
For a quick but scholarly review of the evidence of Johannine authorship, Erik Manning covers both the internal and external evidence.
For related, relevant posts on this site regarding Johannine authorship see:
John’s use of a scribe discussed here
Who are the “we” in John 21:24, including a discussion of the very
early attestation of authorship in the Muratorian Canon here
External evidence of Johannine authorship here
Conclusions that can be drawn from early manuscripts here
Papias and scribes
The OP mentions Papias -- for further reading on whether Papias was a scribe to John, see discussion in my post here. However, regardless of Papias' involvement, a date in the 140s is unnecessary. Papias wrote during the first part of Trajan's reign (Emperor from AD 98-117); the only historical source putting Papias' work much later is Philip of Side, a highly unreliable author who confused Papias with Quadratus.
Papias was living for the last several decades of John's life and knew John personally (see Irenaues Against Heresies 5.33). Papias certainly could have been a scribe for John during the late first century.
Additionally, as soon as we acknowledge that John, like virtually all other first-century writers, would have employed a scribe (Papias or otherwise), the objection that John could not have written the 4th Gospel because he wouldn't have been able to write well in Greek is found to be baseless. John merely needed a scribe who could write well in Greek.
The evidence is early & strong that the Gospel of John was written by the apostle John, the son of Zebedee. Some worldviews (e.g. naturalism) demand belief that the Gospel of John is fantasy written generations after the eyewitnesses were gone, but such worldviews presuppose their own conclusion in rejecting John's historicity. If we do not presuppose naturalism (or rely on the foundation of someone else who did), the historical evidence comes down in favor of the consistent historical record: John really did write John.