Real Madrid assume China will be Pepe's next port of call
The centre-back has been able to negotiate with other clubs since the start of the New Year. Madrid take it for granted he will be moving on in June.
Time to move on
Real Madrid feel sure that Pepe will be leaving the club on 30 June. Despite willingness on both parts during negotiations, neither have been able to reach a compromise. Pepe has requested a two-year extension while Madrid have offered one year plus the option of a second based on performance-related incentives - but the player is not convinced.
China in his hands
Also, since 1 January, the centre-back has been free to sign a contract with any club of his choice for next season. The most attractive offers have come from the Chinese Super League - one has come from Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou Evergrande another, from Villas-Boas' Shanghai SIPG - both coaches know Pepe well, particularly Scolari who recommended that he take Portuguese nationality, and handed him his international debut against Finland on 21 November 2007.
Villas-Boas meanwhile, is looking to the European market for reinforcements. He recently brought in ex-Madrid player Ricardo Carvalho to bolster the defence at Shangai. Both clubs would be willing to double his 5.5 million euro post-tax salary. Manuel Pellegrini has also expressed an interest - as have several top European clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester City and Juventus but none matching the tempting offers from China...