Reports this weekend indicate that Real Madrid defender Pepe, whose contract is set to expire in June, may be joining Inter Milan this summer on a free transfer.
On the surface, this transfer rumor makes a lot of sense. Inter’s defense has been in shambles this campaign, and while aging, Pepe is a respected, veteran center back who would certainly be a good option for whomever manages the club next season.
Pepe was a star in the middle of Portugal’s impenetrable defense at last summer’s European Championships, and was even named the man of the match in the Final, leading Portugal to a 1-0 victory over France to lift the nation’s first major international trophy.
Since then, this season has not gone according to plan for Pepe in the Spanish capital. He’s battled injuries throughout the year, and has found himself relegated to Madrid’s bench more often than not.
Losing your starting job to Raphael Varane, one of the best young defenders in the world, is certainly understandable, but Zinedine Zidane has also often selected Nacho Fernandez ahead of Pepe when given the option this year. The Portuguese has appeared in just 18 matches for Real Madrid, and the club has declined to offer him an extension.
While Pepe has certainly lost a step, and is not the same player he once was, he could be an important addition to Inter. If he comes to the San Siro, Pepe will be a viable alternative to Miranda and Murillo, and his presence would likely push Gary Medel back to the midfield, thus creating more depth to the side.
While playing for Porto and Real Madrid, Pepe has won four league titles, three domestic cups, two Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups and a European Championship. Simply put, he’s a winner with a winner’s mentality. That, along with his veteran presence, would be a welcome addition to a dressing room filled with players that have seemingly thrown in the towel this season.
For Pepe, joining Inter could be a wise move. He’ll face far less competition for playing time and, without European football, he’ll have more of a chance to recover in-between matches. While obviously not at the level of Real Madrid, Inter are a prestigious, “big” club, with (hopefully) top four ambitions.
Even at 34, Pepe still has a lot to offer. Inter would be lucky to have him.
Let’s get the deal done.