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Crystal Palace: Pepe could replace Schlupp

Crystal Palace are reportedly interested in signing Porto’s Pepe in this month’s transfer window and the versatile Brazilian could be a big upgrade on Jeffrey Schlupp at Selhurst Park.

According to reports from Portugal (via Sport Witness), Palace sent scouts to the Estadio do Dragao at the weekend to watch Sérgio Conceição’s side take on Familicao, a game they won 4-1. 

Pepe was thought to be the centre of Palace’s attention, with the Eagles having been linked with the 25-year-old in 2022, and considering his impressive performances so far this campaign, it is easy to see why Patrick Vieira might be keen on bringing him to Selhurst Park this month.

Featuring in a number of positions across defence, midfield and attack, the Porto star has contributed an eye-catching two goals and four assists in 16 appearances for Porto, averaging a superb 7.21 rating from WhoScored for his performances.

Considering Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha are ranked as the top performers at Selhurst Park so far this campaign with a 6.91 average rating, it is clear the quality that Pep would add to Vieira’s squad should he join this month.

It may be difficult to prise Pepe away from the Dragons in the transfer window, given he only signed a new contract until 2027 a few months ago, a decision which was praised by journalist Fernando Campos.

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He said:

“Pepê also signed until 2027 with the Portuguese team. Getting better and more important in Sérgio Conceição’s team.”

Some reports in Portugal also suggest that he has a £65m release clause, making any potential move a rather difficult one for CEO Steve Parish to sanction.

Versatility is a quality that managers often look for in their players and currently Vieira relies upon Schlupp as the most versatile option in his squad, with the former Leicester man having featured predominantly at full-back, central midfield and on the wing during his time at Palace.

However, the Ghanaian’s contract at Selhurst Park is set to expire at the end of the season and the 30-year-old has disappointed in his performances in the Premier League this season, averaging a 6.51 rating from WhoScored for his performances.

Pepe has also averaged far more interceptions (1.6 vs 0.9), key passes (1.4 vs 0.3) and dribbles (1.6 vs 0.5) per game than Schlupp this season, which suggests that he would be a big upgrade in Vieira’s side.

Therefore, if the French manager is looking for a younger, more versatile option in his side in the January window, then he and Parish should definitely look at bringing the Porto star to south London.