Just two days after Pepe had his name chanted by the fans in Bernabeu during the Duodecima celebrations, he gave an extensive interview to COPE, in which he went into details about his contract extension and final year in Real Madrid.
Pepe confirmed that he will be leaving as a free agent after this season. It's something that most fans suspected that it will happen, but hoped that the club and Pepe will eventually reach an agreement and extend his contract.
However, the way Pepe described the contract situation and negotiations, it looks that the infamous internal club's politics and intrigues got involved.
They didn't offer me a one-year extension with the possibility of a second. It's Real Madrid policy, it's the rules of the club. They offered me a one-year contract. There are ways of talking and negotiating but the way Real Madrid went about it wasn't the right way to do things.
One of the Real Madrid's core principles is equal treatment of players, not only when it comes to contracts, but also when it comes to match tickets, special seats, locker room and many other aspects of their life in Real Madrid. Real Madrid's players' contract are standardized and the only major difference is the number in wages column.
All players, Pepe included, are aware of this situation and they know that Florentino Perez nor the board will be swayed from this policy (e.g. Angel Di María's case). But it looks like there has been some tensions or misunderstanding between the club and Pepe. Maybe he expected a different approach after serving the club for 10 years.
Pepe also noted that at times he wasn't defended by Real Madrid and gave an example: his case with tax authorities in 2016. But let's not forget that Real Madrid stood by him, when he got 10 games ban for brutally kicking Getafe's captain Francisco Casquero back in 2009.
If you lose a challenge and the other team scores, you get panned and that's why I always fought hard to defend my team and my part of the pitch. What happened in Getafe really affected me. What I did was very ugly. I always played to a high level and I hope to continue doing so.
Fallout with Zidane
Pepe gave his views on current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and his success.
I don't want to blame anyone. What he's done at Madrid is spectacular but there are some things which I don't understand. I cannot explain why I disappeared from the team in the last few games. With Zidane, we let on to him but we didn't say our goodbyes. Zidane and Madrid knew that I was leaving before I did.
Moreover, he chuckled and refused to comment on Zidane's statement that he wasn't 100% fit in recent weeks because of his ribs. Clearly, there has been some sort of a fall out between Pepe and Zidane, because when Pepe was asked which coach he liked the most, he gave this answer.
That's a tough one! (laughs). All of them have been great coaches and I've learned a lot from each and every one. I liked Rafa Benítez's sincerity. He is a very direct person. I wasn't his first choice but he told me that I had to compete to earn a place in the team. He was always very open and clear with me.
His choice seems strange, because a year ago, he said that Benitez told him that he wasn't needed and that Zidane is a very good coach for him. And this is not the only discrepancy in his statements.
Back in the April, he said that he will wait for Madrid until the last second and will make sacrifices every day to be able to stay here, but in this interview, he revealed that he made up his mind much earlier.
I decided that I would leave in January when I saw that talks were not going anywhere and the way I was being treated by the club wasn't ideal. That was when I started to mentally prepare myself for the realization that my time at Real Madrid was coming to an end. I have given everything for Real Madrid.
[after the game against Atlético in La Liga in March] That was when I made my final decision not to renew with Real Madrid. None of Madrid's top brass called me to see how I was and I spent three weeks trying to return to playing as quickly as I could. I told Mendes that I will not renew and that I want to consider my options. They pressured me to stay for another year, but they did it just to please and calm the fans. Suddenly, I stopped playing and I wasn't even nominated for match day squads. Rest wasn't up to me and I don't want to speculate about the decisions of others.
What's next for Pepe?
Pepe confirmed that he hasn't signed with any club yet, but he said that he has many offers from various clubs, such as Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and from England.
I haven't signed anything with another club. I could have, but I wanted to wait because we had important matches to play and I didn't want to destabilize the team by making some big announcement. I'm excited about starting out with another club and I will give everything I have to give.
Wherever Pepe will go, I'm certain that he will succeed. He is a born winner, as he has shown in his Real Madrid career. He is a Real Madrid legend and nobody can ever take that away from him.
Pepe's message to Real Madrid's supporters:
The day has come... On July 12, 2007 I arrived at Real Madrid with the excitement of a boy who had realized the dream he had since his childhood.
Today, 10 years later, I will no longer wear this badge. Every day I wore this shirt, I did it with hope that I will wear it forever. I can only thank all of you who have supported me and that you have written this beautiful story with me.
Thanks to each one of you who accompanied me. Thanks to all the friends and colleagues, who I know will stay with me wherever I go. I also bid goodbye to this city, where my daughters were born and grew up. I am very happy for what I have achieved and I will carry your affection in my heart!
And I say it again... The best of these 10 years ??? To train every day, to live with each and every one of the employees of this club... To step on the pitch in the Santiago Bernabeu and feeling your support was always magical! I will always keep your affection in my heart and this feeling of fulfilled duty... Real Madrid and your affection will always be part of my history, my life! Thanks and Until Always!