Raphael Varane’s emergence into the Real Madrid side this season could mean the end for 29-year-old Pepe.
Raphael Varane is definitely one of the best teenagers currently playing at the very top of elite football in Europe.
His inclusion in the Real Madrid side to play Manchester United was not a risk, it was a clear sign that Jose Mourinho is thinking this lad is the future of the team’s defence.
His growth as a Real Madrid player was ironically aided by an ankle injury to Pepe which required surgery and kept him out of the side for several weeks.
Now that he’s fit again, he could find it very difficult to win back his regular starting place in the heart of the Real Madrid back four.
The reason this could possibly be the end for Pepe is because he is not the sort of character or individual who likes to be kept out of the team.
His ego certainly isn’t the biggest at Real Madrid but he won’t be afraid to make it known, he’s not happy to be the first choice centre back alongside Sergio Ramos.
He should be worried, deeply worried, because Varane’s performances during his injury absence have covered matches against some of the very best teams in Europe; United and Barcelona to name just two.
He’s performed admirably in these games although he was a little lucky not to be sent off against United for tripping up Patrice Evra who was about to go clean through on goal.
Pepe has the advantage of ten years more of experience but he turns 30 at the end of this month, which may prompt Mourinho and Real Madrid, not into moving him on but looking at giving Varane an even more extended run in the side.
The way many will see it, Pepe has two options. He can wait to see how the rest of the season pans out before deciding to force a move away from the club or he can fight and show the 19-year-old who’s boss and how to defend properly.
It will certainly be interesting to see how they both play together on the odd occasion where Ramos has to switch to right back, as that could signal a direct competition between the two.
Who knows, if they link together like two pieces of Lego then Ramos could quickly find himself as the one under pressure.
Will Pepe be forced to make way for Varane?
image: © katabasis