Real Madrid achieved historical success this past season, capturing their first La Liga and UEFA Champions League double since 1958. But amidst all of the celebrations and trophy lifting that has taken place over the past few weeks in the Spanish capital, there is one aspect of the campaign that did not end positively.
After a decade of service for Los Blancos, centre-back Pepe was not a part of the line-up in the final against Juventus and will be moving on from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.
The Frustrating End to Pepe’s Time at Real Madrid
The Portuguese international formed an incredible partnership with team-mate Sergio Ramos throughout past years, and enjoyed much success with the club. Ultimately, the appointment of manager Zinedine Zidane left the 34-year-old defender in an extremely difficult situation.
At one point amongst the top defenders in the world, injuries certainly began to take their toll on Pepe this season. He missed several matches throughout the campaign and struggled to keep full fitness. Zidane came to the conclusion that there were others at Real Madrid that could solidify his back-line.
The French legend felt more comfortable with Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez in the centre-back role as the season came to a close.
A unique legacy
After helping to guide FC Porto to consecutive league titles in Portugal, Pepe signed with Real Madrid in the summer of 2007. With excellent vision and a fantastic touch on the ball, the club knew they had someone special. It also did not take long for all involved to see his passion and determination.
Even in his early days at Madrid, yellow cards and fights seemed to follow Pepe. His first season featured issues on the training ground with team-mates, while the opposition on the pitch often felt his wrath in various ways.
Pepe’s positioning and instincts in central defence were part of what let the attack shine, knowing that there was a capable line behind the midfield. His overall play may not be the same, but there are certainly clubs that the defender can still provide great value for.
After losing their grip on Ligue 1 to AS Monaco this past term, it is no secret that Paris Saint-Germain will be intent on returning to the top of the French first division. The signing of Pepe could be a strong addition to their talented squad.
Paired alongside Thiago Silva, Pepe would help fill the void left by the departure of David Luiz. His leadership would be a key attribute as well, guiding younger players in the team towards success as well.
One of the more interesting options would be in Italy with AC Milan. Serie A is known for its defensive tactics, and Pepe may find the league quite suitable to his style.
Able to play well in a three-man line, the defender’s arrival at the San Siro could be a welcome sight as the Rossoneri work their way back to the top of the division.
Ten years can come and go quickly, and that is certainly the feeling for Pepe at Real Madrid. It was frustrating for the defender to end his time at the club in such a negative manner. However, his next chapter is bound to bring more quality in a new setting.