Report: Real Madrid identify €40m rated world class defender to replace Pepe
What’s the story?
With Real Madrid defender Pepe’s contract coming to an end this summer, the club have reportedly decided not to renew his deal and are looking at Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng as a possible replacement. According to German news outlet, Sky Deutschland, the 28-year-old World Cup winner is the La Liga club’s primary target as they look to a future without Pepe.
Pepe is now 34 years old and does not feature in Zinedine Zidane’s plans anymore this season due to a rib injury. The French manager confirmed that Pepe was unfit for the remaining league fixtures but did not talk about his availability for the Champions League final on 3 June.
“Pepe's career has been spectacular,” he said. “It's been 10 years where he's done fantastic things, but with this I'm not telling you what is going to happen next year because I do not know.
“He will not be in the squad tomorrow because of his rib,” he continued. “He trained with us, but it's not quite right.”
In case you didn’t know...
Having joined the club in 2007 from Porto, Pepe has spent 10 seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu where he has won two league titles, two Copa del Rey trophies and two Champions League titles. Although there were reports that a contract extension was on the cards in 2016, the Portuguese defender was unhappy that it was only a one-year deal with an optional second year.
Pepe was looking for a two-year deal but the Real Madrid board were not convinced that he could continue playing at the levels desired considering he would be 35 at the start of the 2018/19 season. This reportedly led to an impasse between both parties and the club started looking for replacements.
A collision with Toni Kroos saw him injure his ribs and he hasn’t played for Los Blancos since.
The heart of the matter
Jerome Boateng will not come cheap as the German defender has a contract with the Bundesliga giants until the end of the 2020/21 season. With four years to go on his current deal and a market value that is upwards of €40m, it would require a significant bid to bring him to the Bernabeu.
However, Madrid would also have to convince Bayern to let go of their star. The club are absolutely in no need of the money and they are not a selling club. They make their decisions based on their sporting ambitions and releasing Boateng will not be on their agenda.
Boateng has also suffered from various niggles and injuries this season – from shoulder injuries to issues with his groin.
Video: Boateng’s highlights in defence
Real Madrid have taken the right decision by looking to replace Pepe. Boateng is a world class defender who has won 13 trophies with Bayern and, if the club can convince him to make the switch to Spain, he would considerably strengthen Zidane’s squad.
Boateng would not only replace Pepe but he would also give Raphael Varane competition to partner Sergio Ramos. With the ability to also play at right-back, Boateng will give Zidane plenty of options in defence in a team that plays more than 60 games a season.