A 34-year-old Pepe will complete his tenure at Real Madrid on Friday after ten illustrious years at the club.
He departs the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in an uncharacteristic manner away from the lights and focus, with a slight degree of bitterness as he hopes for lucrative offers from potential suitors.
Concluding his career in the capital would have been ideal for the Portuguese centre-back, but instead the defender will now leave with a noble farewell, despite previously voicing his disappointment at the club during a radio interview.
Pepe was offered a one-year contract with an option for a second year but felt insulted by the proposal having wished for two guaranteed years.
Los Blancos are supposedly at fault for the defender’s departure, although it is clear that the board gave the player an optimal avenue to continue.
Last season saw an enduring and difficult relationship between the former Porto man and the club as tension surrounding the charismatic player’s future grew.
Florentino Perez and Pepe were very close, and the senior defender had become a seasoned Madridista after many years, but injuries did not help, as they hampered the gloomy situation.
Lack of appearances and growing hostility from Zinedine Zidane and the dressing room led the defender waiting for January as possible offers to relocate to China awaited.
The Chinese Super league did not call and the centre-back will now depart with three Champions League medals and many other titles, but leaving behind a family, Real Madrid, who backed him in the most delicate moments and who would have been delighted to see him finish his career at the Bernabeu.
Nonetheless, the Brazilian-born player will leave his teammates in amicable way, also leaving a profound legacy.
By José Félix Díaz for Marca