Forty-eight hours after Real Madrid won their twelfth Champions League in Cardiff, the club have seen one their best players of recent times, centre-back Pepe, kick off about the way he has been dealt with.
In an interview with El Partidazo on Cadena COPE on Monday night, Pepe did not hold back and confirmed he is set to leave Los Blancos and that there manner of negotiating with him has been more than disappointing.
“Madrid didn’t offer me two years,” the Portugal international said. “They just offered me one year, so it’s clear that I’m not going to continue with Real Madrid. There are ways of talking and negotiating but the club hasn't acted correctly. That’s annoyed me.
“So I am not going to continue with the club. An era has come to an end and a new one will begin. In fact, I’ve already started the move. Most of my things are in Portugal and I just have my house in Madrid.”
Pepe, 34, feels especially hurt with how the club treated him when he was in a dispute with the tax office: “The club didn’t defend me with the tax office issue. You know I have everything up to date but did you see the club defend me?”
However, he still leaves after an unforgettable spell with the club: “I’m happy. I have always given everything for this shirt. I have felt very loved and that’s something nobody can take away from me.
“Every day I woke up to go to train with Real Madrid was special. To go to the training ground, to play at the Bernabeu… There’s not one special moment which stays with me, it all stays with me, all the time I have been able to spend with this club.”
Marca reported earlier on Tuesday that Pepe has signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain, but he said nothing is signed yet. He’s set to stay at the top level of European football, though, as he looks to go to the World Cup next summer with Portugal.
Asked if his only offers were from PSG and Inter Milan he confirmed “there are more” and said there are some from “England”.
Zinedine Zidane did not escape his criticism, either. Despite admitting the French coach’s achievements are fantastic, he said: “What Zidane’s done with Madrid is spectacular, but there are still things I don’t understand, like how I disappeared from the team.
“I have not said goodbye to [Zidane] because Zidane and Real Madrid knew that I was leaving before I did.”
When it came to choosing the best manager he’s had at Real Madrid, Pepe surprised by saying he “really liked the sincerity of [Rafa] Benitez. I identified a lot with him, even though he didn’t play me at the beginnings.
“Zidane and Benitez are completely different people. I like [Benitez's] way of working. There are some who are enlightened, they may win or lose… but I believe in the work.”