There’s a reason why Gremio were willing to let their star player leave for Benfica in August.
At the time, the Brazilian giants seemed suspiciously calm about the inevitable departure of Everton Soares, a Brazil international who produced 15 goals and seven assists during his final season in South America.
But now it all makes sense.
Gremio knew they not only had a player capable of immediately taking over from Everton on the left-wing. They had a player capable of usurping and even outshining a Copa America winner who set Benfica back almost £20 million.
So far, Eduardo Gabriel Aquino Cossa, otherwise known as Pepe, has produced 16 goals or assists in 27 matches – a greater contribution than the man he replaced at the Arena do Gremio.
So while Pepe himself attracted plenty of interest during the summer, notably from Everton and West Ham United (Calciomercato), any offers were batted away without a second thought.
“Pepe will be more complete than Everton (Soares). Everton is not doing well at Benfica. I’ll take Pepe,” Gremio vice-president Claudio Oderich says in quotes reported by O Jogo.
“If you pay the £130 million release clause, we will not be able to keep him. Otherwise, Pepe stays until the end of the season.”
As clear a message as you could hope to receive, then.
Wolverhampton Wanderers held talks over a £22 million deal for Pepe last month, according to Globo Esporte, but any hopes they had of luring the speedy 23-year-old to Molineux are surely dead in the water.
Unless, of course, Wolves are willing to raise that £22 million offer by a further £90 million?
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