Real Madrid defender Pepe is all set to make a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer to join Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune.
The ‘El Partidazo’ programme on Spanish radio station Cadena COPE have reported that Pepe will leave Real Madrid in the summer to make a switch to the Chinese Super League to join Hebei China Fortune on a lucrative deal.
Pepe is one of those footballers who has attracted divided opinions all through his career. His no-nonsense, often combative attitude while defending does not go down well with many who associate themselves with a more well-mannered form of football.
However, having a closer look at the Portugal international go about defending often reveals that the 33-year-old possesses superb technical abilities at the back. After all, one just can’t represent one of the best football clubs in the world for as many years as Pepe has without being among the best in your trade.
— El Partidazo de COPE (@partidazocope) January 25, 2017
Signed from Porto way back in 2007 for £25 million, Pepe has been one of the most important figures for Los Blancos over the years, and has established himself as one of the ever-present members in the first team squad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In more than nine years since joining Real Madrid, Pepe has amassed more than 300 appearances and has played a key role for the Spanish giants, winning each of the Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey twice.
Last year, the veteran centre-back led from the front as Portugal won their maiden international trophy to triumph at the European Championships. Pepe, in particular, was hailed for his gritty display at the back as Portugal ended the tournament with one of the best defensive records.
This season, however, Pepe has struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu, with a spate of injuries restricting the 33-year-old to just 9 appearances in all competitions. His frustrations are at no end right now, as Pepe remains sidelined with a calf injury.
It now looks like the Portuguese centre-back is set to end his stellar journey with Real Madrid upon the completion of 10 years with Los Blancos at the end of the season. And even though he has been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea in recent months, Pepe is ready to leave Europe altogether.
The Portugal international is all set to become the next big name player to join the Chinese juggernaut as he looks likely to sign for Hebei China Fortune. An interest from China for Pepe was reported last month, and as per the El Partidazo de COPE report the transfer will happen when his contract expires at the end of this season.
The move to Hebei will see Pepe reunite with his former Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini who is at the helm of the Chinese Super League side, and the centre-back will earn €15 million, which will see Pepe treble his earnings from his current €5 million with Los Blancos.
With the FIFA World Cup just a year away at the end of the current season, Pepe is concerned that a lack of first team football action will see him lose his place in the national team. With that in mind, he will look to seal the move to Hebei. Suffice to say, the move to China has the potential to be fruitful for all parties involved.