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.