Power Sport Images/Getty Images
Real Madrid defender Pepe has reportedly agreed to join Inter Milan on a two-year deal worth €4 million this summer.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t AS), the centre-back will depart Real on a free transfer after a decade with the club and his agent, Jorge Mendes, has verbally agreed to the deal with Inter after a meeting with the Italian outfit.
All that remains is for Nerazzurri owner Zhang Jindong to give the green light to the deal, which he is expected to do. The club is said to be targeting three experienced players this summer, of which the Portugal international would be one.
Cracked ribs have prevented the 34-year-old from making an on-field goodbye at Real, with his last appearance coming against Atletico Madrid in April, though there remains the possibility of a romantic sign-off in the UEFA Champions League final on June 3.
Pepe is advanced in years, but as the 36-year-old Andrea Barzagli has shown with Juventus, older defenders can still thrive in Serie A, and his experience will be almost unrivalled—Inter represent an excellent destination to potentially finish his career.
Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
Meanwhile, James Rodriguez “very clearly appeared to say his last adios to the Real Madrid supporters at the [Santiago] Bernabeu” on Sunday, when he was substituted in Los Blancos’ 4-1 win over Sevilla, according to AS.
Rodriguez has reportedly agreed to join Manchester United this summer, per Colombian journalist Antonio Casale on radio show En La Jugada (h/t AS).
Marca‘s Jose Luis Calderon and Yahoo Sport’s Andrew Gaffney interpreted the midfielder’s lengthy exit from the pitch and emotional applause to all corners of the stadium in the same way:
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane would not be drawn on the speculation, though, per ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Zidane asked if James’ said goodbye “We’re just thinking about 3 games left, end of season. I do not want to talk about anything else.”
5/14/2017, 8:22:10 PM
SB Nation’s Lucas Navarrete believes the Colombian would be right to move on:
Lucas Navarrete @LucasNavarreteM
James’ career with Real Madrid has been nothing short of a huge disappointment after his brilliant debut season.
5/15/2017, 7:58:08 AM
If Rodriguez’s stay in the Spanish capital has been a disappointment, it’s not for lack of trying on the player’s part.
The midfielder hasn’t been a natural fit under Zidane—or Rafa Benitez before him—but he has contributed a lot in relatively little game time.
This season, he has racked up 11 goals and 13 assists in just 1,800 minutes, producing one or the other every 75 minutes on average.
Rodriguez is an excellent player who deserves a bigger role than he has been given. With that unlikely to change, a move would be the best option for him. United could give him the platform to showcase his undeniable talent.