Real Madrid centre-back Pepe is reportedly set to become the latest major European star to join the Chinese Super League. The likes of Chelsea and Manchester City had been linked with his services in recent months but Spanish radio station Cadena Cope claims the Portugal international will move to Hebei China Fortune coached by Manuel Pellegrini once his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu expires at the end of the current season.
The 33-year-old defender's future at the Champions League winners has been under scrutiny in recent months despite publicly expressing his desire to sign a new deal at Real Madrid.
In October The Mirror reported that Chelsea were closely monitoring the situation as negotiations between Real Madrid and his agent, Jorge Mendes, over a new deal had stalled.
AS added earlier this month that Real Madrid were ready to give up on the battle as officials at the club had become resigned to Pepe moving to China. But, Los Blancos still refused to offer the veteran defender the two-year extension he had been holding out for to renew his current deal.
The Spanish publication added that Chelsea, Manchester City and Juventus had also approached the centre-back but he favoured moving to the Far East as none of the European sides could match the tempting offers from China. Far East clubs like Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG and Hebei China Fortune were interested in luring another high profile star to the Chinese Super League.
Cope now claims that Hebei China Fortune are set to win the battle as Pepe has already agreed a move to Manuel Pellegrini's side in a deal which will see him earning around €15m per annum (£12.8m, $16.1).
The radio station suggests that the presence of former Real Madrid boss at the Chinese outfit has played a crucial role in Pepe's decision as Pellegrini was keen to reunite with the defender at Manchester City during his time at the Etihad Stadium.
The Euro 2016 championship winner is currently on the sidelines but has been a crucial player for Real Madrid in the last decade, having joined Los Blancos from Porto in the summer of 2007 for around €30m.