Sebastien Squallaci has hardly taken to the Premiership like a duck to water, and even with a resurgent Johan Djourou, it is believed that the man in charge at the Emirates wants to move for a new central defender this Summer to add some more power and experience to the back four. The man he is looking at is Real Madrid’s Portugese defender Pepe.
The Brazillian born defender came through the ranks at Maritimo, playing for the first team between 2002 and 2004, he then moved onto Porto where during his 3 year spell he became one of the best defenders in his native league and also widely respected across Europe.
Pepe won back to back titles with Porto, and finally in 2007 made a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a deal worth £25million signing a 5 year deal. Since then he has become a solid performer for Madrid and has recently formed a good partnership with fellow countryman Ricardo Carvalho.
During his time in the Spanish capital Pepe has been involved in various altercations, most noticably a training ground bust up with midfielder Javier Balboa, and more recently the ugly scenes where he kicked Getafe’s Javier Casquero twice after he went down for a penalty, he was sent off and received a 10 game ban for the incident – his form however has not been overly effected by these issues.
Pepe is now embroiled in a contractual disagreement with Madrid, his deal expires in 2012 and there are no signs of the player agreement to new terms at the moment, he is one of the clubs lowest earners being paid about £1.5million a year and to sign a new deal he wants to double that figure.
With the situation at deadlock the club may be tempted to sell over the Summer to avoid losing him for nothing the following year. Interest is thought to be coming from Manchester City and Chelsea, but Arsenal are in pole position and are particularly keen on the centre back.
Figures quoted vary, earlier reports over the weekend stated that Jose Mourinho would sell the player for a figure around £12million, low due to there just being 12 months left on the players contract. However in recent days the figures coming out of Spanish press claim that the fee has risen to around £25million, which if true would make the potential transfer a bigger risk.
Arsenal have also explored other defensive options but have now written these off, Neven Subotic looks like he will stay at German table toppers Borussia Dortmund for at least another season, and after chasing Bolton and England defender Gary Cahill for a while, Wenger has finally accepted that he and Bolton will not come to an agreement on a valuation for the young centre-back.
The problems with Pepe’s tempremant are massively balanced out by his string of strong performances for the Spanish giants, and his physical and powerful approach to the game would make him a fantastic addition to the Arsenal defence in my opinion.
In the past he has also played as a holding midfielder and is reasonably comfortable with the ball at his feet, something that is valued very highly by the Arsenal hierarchy. If a lower fee than the current £25million could be agreed I think this is exactly what Wenger needs to help his sometime leaky defense.
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