Veteran defender Pepe has said he will leave Real Madrid on a free transfer this summer after 10 years at the club.
The 34-year-old Portuguese has made 334 appearances while helping Real to three LaLiga titles and three Champions League crowns, but it appears his spell in the Spanish capital is coming to a muted end.
Pepe announced his departure himself in an interview with Spanish radio station COPE, and said he had not had a farewell conversation with Zinedine Zidane in the wake of Madrid’s latest Champions League title, won in Cardiff on Saturday.
“What he has done for Real Madrid is spectacular, but there are things I still do not understand,” Pepe said. “I didn’t say goodbye because they knew before I did.”
Pepe has slipped behind both Raphael Varane and Nacho in the battle to play alongside captain Sergio Ramos in the Madrid defence, and a parting of the ways had looked likely throughout the season as his contract ticked down.
“I’ve had years of great pride in which I have given my body and soul,” he said. “But I took the decision in January when it was clear which way it was going. I’m happy for the love of the people, and that’s worth more than everything.”
Pepe has already been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, but he said it was too soon to say where he might play next.
“There are more proposals, also from England,” he said.
Provided by Press Association
Bosnia-Herzegovina international Sead Kolasinac will join Arsenal on a free transfer when his contract at Schalke expires, the Premier League club have announced.
The 23-year-old will become the Gunners’ first summer signing when he completes his move, as manager Arsene Wenger looks to add to his squad to launch a sustained bid to win the title.
Kolasinac came through the ranks at Schalke and made over 100 appearances for the Bundelsiga outfit.
The German-born defender operates at left-back and his arrival will throw into doubt the future of Kieran Gibbs, who has yet to negotiate fresh terms at the Emirates Stadium.
Kolasinac had reportedly been attracting the interest of Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton but it has been understood for some time that a move to Arsenal was on the cards.
The announcement, made with a short statement on the club’s official website, makes Kolasinac the first new recruit for Wenger after he signed a new, two-year deal to continue as Arsenal boss.
Wenger, as well as chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, has targeted a run at the Premier League crown next season.
Arsenal will also participate in the Europa League having missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 19 years.
Kolasinac has experience of the Europa League and is likely to be competing against Nacho Monreal for a place in Wenger’s side.
The Gunners have been linked with a big-money move for Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe, while Henry Onyekuru – a forward currently at Belgian outfit KAS Eupen – has also been touted as a target.
What do you make of the transfer?
With the transfer window set to open next month, the frenetic nature of speculation has already begun.
Rumours are starting to gather pace and we take a look at the latest stories doing the rounds in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
The young French sensation has a number of clubs circling around him, with Arsenal the latest to be linked with a move for the 18-year-old.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was spotted in Nice with chief executive Ivan Gazidis, with reports suggesting Arsenal are preparing a bid for Mbappe that would shatter the club’s transfer record.
The Monaco striker is also wanted by Real Madrid, who are said to be preparing a £118 million bid.
Mbappe is coming off a headline-grabbing season for Monaco, with his goals leading the club to the Champions League semi-final. His performances in Ligue 1 and the Champions League have led to him becoming one of the hottest properties in football.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Mbappe moving this summer wouldn’t be a shock, but moving to Arsenal would be. The amount of money it would take to persuade Monaco to sell their young star is well beyond what Wenger is usually willing to pay for a player. And if Arsenal are considering a huge bid, it’s likely that other clubs are considering even bigger ones.
Bayern Munich have reportedly entered the fray in the battle to sign Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian was expected to be the subject of a tug-of-war between Chelsea and Manchester United, but the German champions are now also in the running according to Manchester Evening News.
Lukaku has refused to sign a new contract with Everton, although as his current one runs until 2019 the club are under no pressure to sell, with rumors suggesting it would take a world-record transfer fee to prise him away from Goodison Park.
The Belgian has said his future has already been decided, although he’s remained tight-lipped on where he will be playing next season.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Lukaku is definitely a wanted man, but Bayern Munich already have one world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski. Would the Bundesliga outfit really sanction a bid in the region of £100 million, which is said to be Everton’s asking price? It seems unlikely. If the Belgian does leave Everton this summer, it’s likely to be for either Manchester United or Chelsea.
If Lukaku does leave Everton this summer, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is the man being tipped to replace him.
Vardy played a starring role in the Foxes’ miraculous Premier League triumph a year ago, and although he failed to hit the same heights this season there were signs that he was rediscovering his best form towards the end of the campaign.
The Englishman’s bruising, all-action style would be a good replacement for Lukaku.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Leicester City may finally be ready to cash in on Vardy and Everton could easily be the highest bidders if they raise funds from a sale of Lukaku.
The Daily Mirror reports that Lyon striker – Arsenal and Liverpool target – considers a Premier League move an “interesting option.”
Newcastle are close to landing two of Rafa Benitez’s targets, Sporting Lisbon duo Ruben Semedo and Marvin Zeegelaar, according to the Daily Star.