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Contract extension puts Pepe in line to reach 10 years at Real Madrid

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Four days after announcing Sergio Ramos’ new deal, Real Madrid has confirmed the team’s other starting center back, Pepe, will also stay put. Extending a contract that was set to expire in June, the Portugal international has agreed to a deal which will run through the 2016-17 season, giving the 32-year-old a change to reach a full decade of service to the Spanish club.

The Brazil-born defender originally joined Real Madrid in July 2007 from FC Porto for a €30 million fee. Since, Pepe has made 195 La Liga appearances, taking part in two league title-winning campaigns and helping the club claim the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League.

Under new head coach Rafa Benitez, Pepe is expected to begin his ninth campaign with Madrid on Sunday when his club opens their La Liga campaign against newly-promoted Sporting Gijon. Should he see out his new extension, Pepe will have spent a full decade at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Though he has 10 winners medals to his credit during that span, Pepe’s time in white has also cast him as a controversial figure. During his first season with Real Madrid, he was involved in a training ground fight with teammate Javier Balboa. The next season, Pepe earned a 10-match ban for kicking one opponent and striking another during Madrid’s April 2009 game against Getafe.

During his time under former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho (2010-13), Pepe was one of the key players in escalating tensions between Real Madrid and Barcelona. In April 2011, he drew a red card during the first leg of a Champions League semifinal against Barça, leaving him suspended for the return leg. In January 2012, Pepe stepped on the hand of a fallen Lionel Messi during teams’ Copa del Rey quarterfinal.

In March 2012, Pepe earned a two-match suspension after confronting a referee in the locker room area following Madrid’s 1-1 draw away to Villarreal. In 2014, Pepe was red carded from a group stage game at the Brazil World Cup after headbutting German attacker Thomas Muller.

SEE MORE: La Liga preview: A new season beckons for Spanish giants.

Amid the controversies, Pepe remained a key member of a Portuguese national team that qualified for two European Championships and the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. In both 2008 and 2012, he was named to UEFA’s European Championship teams of the tournament, while UEFA also named him to their 2013-14 Team of the Season. Pepe also earned two previous contact extensions from Madrid, after the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

Though Raphael Varane should continue to see increased playing time next to Sergio Ramos, Pepe’s extension hints he’ll be part of the French international’s transition into a more prominent role. Along the way, Pepe should become one of the rare players who can say they enjoyed a full decade in white for the Spanish giants.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. San Fransiscan

    August 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Can’t understand how he is not in jail yet.

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