In true Pepe fashion, the Portuguese international announced the end of his 10-year Real Madrid career in a bustling backdoor exit of finger-pointing and cries of foul play.
The combative defender, 34, confirmed on Monday that he's on his way out of the club following the expiration of his contract later this month, and in a parting shot suggested he identified more with Rafa Benitez than his successor and back-to-back Champions League-winning manager Zinedine Zidane in Madrid.
"I don't want to blame anyone. What Zidane has done with Real Madrid is spectacular, but there are things I don't understand," Pepe told radio station Cadena COPE, with translation from FourFourTwo.
"I didn't say goodbye to Zidane because Zidane and Real Madrid knew I was going before I did."
(Photo courtesy: @tjcope)
Pepe, 34, was reportedly close to agreeing a transfer to Inter Milan in mid-May, but accounts in recent days – such as Monday's story from The Sun's Alex Terrell – claim he's on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal.
That's better than the 12-month extension he was allegedly offered by Los Blancos, a proposition that angered the veteran centre-back.
"Madrid didn't offer me two years," the Maritimo product said, according to Sport. "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's decade-long stay in the Spanish capital was marred by disciplinary issues on the pitch, with the most serious flash point coming in a league match against Getafe in April 2009 when he kicked out at Javier Casquero after conceding a penalty. His trophy haul is remarkable though, collecting three titles each in the Champions League and La Liga, two each in the Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana, and Club World Cup, and a solitary UEFA Super Cup medal in 2014.
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
The 2015-16 campaign was one of Pepe's best as he followed finishing at the summit of the Spanish game with a pivotal role in Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph. It will be these exploits, rather than the injury-hit term of 2016-17, that potential suitors will be hoping for when submitting offers for the Brazil-born bruiser.
He shouldn't rely on a good reference from the Bernabeu, though.
"The club didn't defend me with the tax office issue," he claimed of his 2016 financial dispute with the Spanish authorities. "You know I have everything up to date but did you see the club defend me?"
Pepe insists there are no hard feelings with the club and its president Florentino Perez, and says he cherished his time with the European behemoth.
"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."
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