Real Madrid defender Pepe has paved the way for a Premier League move after rejecting a new contract at the Bernabeau.
Reports in the Spanish media suggest that contract negotiations have broken down despite manager Jose Mourinho’s plea to the board to sanction the player’s increased wage demands.
Based on his existing deal, Pepe earns around £1.5m per year, which would rank him as one of the lowest earners at the club. He is said to be demanding close to double the amount ahead of signing an extension – something that club officials are unwilling to accept.
The Portuguese international has attracted interest from Chelsea and Manchester City in the past, but Arsenal appear to have come to the forefront with a surprisingly large offer of £25million to secure the player’s services.
The 27-year-old central defender would add an extra dimension to manager Arsene Wenger’s defensive line and he will look to bring Pepe to the Emirates in the summer, ready to line up at the start of next season.
The Gunners have long been in the market for another defender since the long-term injury to Thomas Vermaelen.
Reports in the English media linked Arsenal with a January move for Bolton Wanderers’ Gary Cahill but nothing transpired because of discrepancies in the player’s value.
However, with Pepe going into the last 18months of his contract and no signs of a new deal being agreed, Arsenal may look to pounce with a generous offer that will test the resolve of Los Blancos officials who may want to cash-in rather than let the player walk away for free next summer.