Following a disappointing season at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid defender Pepe looks set to depart, perhaps on his way to Manchester City
The 30-year-old Brazilian centre-back had previously been a staple of the back line at the Bernabeu since his arrival from Porto back in 2007.
However, under Jose Mourinho Pepe seemed have slipped down the pecking order in the Spanish capital and despite the Portuguese coach’s departure, Pepe may still be looking for a way out.
Meanwhile, Manchester City had the most solid defence in the Premier League last term. Roberto Mancini’s men conceded just 34 goals across the entire campaign, despite the Italian’s constant chopping and changing with his formation and his backline.
Obviously, captain Vincent Kompany is the biggest factor to City’s defensive record last term and Pablo Zabaleta enjoyed probably the best form of his career.
However, there has been cause for concern over the form and fitness of Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards and Kolo Toure who has now departed from the Etihad to sign on a free transfer for Liverpool.
The likely appointment to replace Mancini is widely reported to be former Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini who was the coach who worked with Pepe in the Spanish capital back in 2009/10 before Mourinho’s arrival.
During that season under Pellegrini, Pepe made just 10 appearances, however, due to his receipt of a 10-match ban for striking an opponent in the face at the end of the 2008/09 campaign.
He didn’t return to the starting line-up until October, a long three months in which Pellegrini had to cope without one of his best defenders. When Pepe did return to the lineup, it was often as a defensive midfielder under Pellegrini – a role he has not returned to since the Chilean coach’s departure at the end of that season.
Is it possible that Pellegrini could bring Pepe to the Etihad this summer, as reports this week have suggested? City will definitely require the services of another centre-back – even if only to replace Kolo Toure.
However, could Pepe be intended to come in a possible defensive midfielder – since the departure of Nigel de Jong City have lacked that protection in front of their back line. Javi Garcia has yet to properly convince and Yaya Toure has tended to take up a more attacking role whilst Gareth Barry is now 32 and past his peak.
I wouldn’t expect Pepe to arrive at Eastlands any time soon – whilst the speculation over his future is real, the departure of Mourinho improves his chances of first-team football once again at the Bernabeu. Could he walk into City’s starting line-up? Possibly. I suspect he will remain in Spain, however.
image: © jansolo09