Real Madrid defender Pepe is set to move to Hebei China Fortune at the end of the summer after being convinced by former boss Manuel Pellegrini.
According to a report in El Confidencial, the 34-year-old Portuguese stalwart is edging closer to a move away from Santiago Bernabeu in the summer after 10 years at the club, as Real Madrid have refused to change their stance on giving him a new contract.
Pepe will reportedly be moving to Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune FC after being convinced by manager Manuel Pellegrini to make the switch. The 63-year-old Chilean knows Pepe well, having managed him briefly at Los Blancos during the 2009-10 season.
Hebei have reportedly seen out competition from Andres Villas Boas’ Shanghai SIPG, who also made contact with his agent Jorge Mendes. Hebei have reportedly offered him a 3-year-deal, at the end of which he would have earned an astounding €45 million, with €15 million per season.
Pepe, who hasn’t played a game since fracturing his rib in Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid last month, never wanted to leave and wanted to continue playing at the top level for Real Madrid, where he has spent nearly a decade of his life.
While the money is tempting, it comes at the cost of losing stability in his personal life and uprooting his family. The 34-year-old is said to have wanted a 2-year contract extension at the club, after which he would likely end his career at the Spanish capital having won everything there was to win.
However, the Madrid hierarchy haven’t budged on their offer of a 1-year contract extension and are unlikely to do so. Real Madrid were made well aware of the offers than were coming in for Pepe by his agent, but they remain unmoved and the scope for negotiations ended over 2 months ago.
Real Madrid’s Jesus Vallejo, currently on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, was reportedly identified as Pepe’s long term heir and the club have been linked to players such as FC Porto’s Felipe and Manchester City center back Nicholas Otamendi in recent months.
So far this season, Pepe has featured only 18 times in all competitions with Raphael Varane and even Nacho being preferred ahead of him. Multiple injuries haven’t helped his cause this season with there doesn’t seem to be a way back for the legendary center-back into Zidane’s starting XI.