Real Madrid are reportedly gearing themselves up for Pepe moving to China at the end of the season after negotiations with his agent, Jorge Mendes, over a new deal stalled. Spanish publication AS claims Chelsea, Manchester City and Juventus have all expressed an interest in the 33-year-old centre-back, but none could match riches on offer from the Chinese Super League.
Pepe has been a mainstay for the Real Madrid defence ever since his €30m (£26m, $31.4m) move from Porto in the summer of 2007. However, his future at the Santiago Bernabeu has come under scrutiny in recent months as he is out of contract at the end of the current season and thus free to negotiate a move somewhere else.
In October The Mirror reported that Chelsea were closely monitoring the situation ahead of luring him to Stamford Bridge as a free-agent.
Pepe has publicly said his dream would be to hang his boots up at Real Madrid, while Zinedine Zidane has also expressed hopes the veteran defender will continue at the club ahead of next season.
However, AS reports that the negotiations between Pepe and Real Madrid have since been unsuccessful and the La Liga giants now "feel sure that Pepe will be leaving the club on 30 June" to move to China.
Both parties wanted Pepe to continue at Real Madrid but talks have stalled due to a dispute over the length of the player's contract. The veteran defender wants a two-year extension but the club are only offering him a one-year deal, plus the option of a second based on performance-related incentives.
Zidane also has Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Nacho to fill the position, and with Pepe being already 33 and hit by different injuries this season, his playing time is starting to be reduced.
Pepe, according to AS, looks ready to move to the Chinese Super League, where both Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG would be keen to double the €5.5m-a-year salary he currently receives at Real Madrid. Manuel Pellegrini is also said to be keen to reunite with his former defender at Hebei China Fortune.
AS claims that Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus and other top European clubs have approached Pepe's entourage to know about his availability, but none can afford to match the Chinese billionaires for a 33-year-old defender.
Meanwhile, AS adds that James Rodriguez has also been recently tempted with a €30m-a-year offer to move to Hebei China Fortune during the January transfer window. However, Real Madrid and the Colombia international quickly turned down the proposal despite Pellegrini's side being ready to pay €110m to Los Blancos to acquire his services.