Pepe will be remembered as one of the better – albeit somewhat nastier – centre-backs of his generation, featuring prominently as Sergio Ramos’ centre-back partner amid Real Madrid’s run of two Champions League titles in the space of three years.
However, his future at the Bernabeu remains unclear. The 33-year-old’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season and while his representatives are pushing for a two-year deal, Los Blancos are only prepared to offer a twelve-month extension.
Perhaps due to the endless reports claiming Antonio Conte is desperately scouring the market for defensive reinforcements, Mirror Football claim Pepe is ready to consider a move to Chelsea. Due to his aforementioned contract situation, the Blues can agree a pre-contract in January and sign the defender on a free transfer in summer 2017.
In a nutshell, not really. Many fear what will happen when 35-year-old John Terry finally hangs up his boots, potentially at the end of the current season, and in terms of experience, Pepe could be the man to fill the Chelsea captain’s leadership void.
But Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill are both the wrong side of 30 also, whilst summer signing David Luiz is already 29. There’s no doubting Pepe’s ability – as the per-game metrics below, courtesy of Squawka, show – but Chelsea’s defence is in need of some young blood, rather than more ageing stars with just a few years left at top level.
Overall, Mirror Football’s report is an unusual one. Whilst most transfer rumours start from the perspective of a club being interest, this report flips the format on its head – claiming Pepe is keen on a move to Chelsea, rather than the Blues actively targeting him.
That may well be true, but Pepe’s camp could also be working to create the illusion of interest in the defender, hoping it will force Real Madrid to buckle to their demands and offer a two-year deal. After all, does the Portugal international really fancy a final adventure in the Premier League next season, at which point he’ll have turned 34, instead of seeing out the last few years of his career in the relative comfort of the Bernabeu? It seems unlikely.