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It’s been a not so well kept secret in recent months that Pepe will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, and it looks like Los Blancos may have found their replacement.
According to Spanish daily AS, the Bernabéu hierarchy have been in touch with the Felipe Monteiro’s agent, Giuliano Bertolucci, and have reached an agreement for the Porto defender to become a Madrid player next season.
— AS English (@English_AS) March 15, 2017
But just who is the 27-year-old?
Felipe: A background
Felipe, as is he is more commonly known, joined Porto in the summer from Corinthians for just over £5million.
He has made 37 appearances for Nuno Espírito Santo’s side in all competitions, scoring three times and picking up eight yellow cards.
The 27-year-old has played on both sides of a centre-back pairing this season, and is quick with a lot of physical power.
He is a big basketball fan and you can tell that has rubbed off on his game, he has a powerful leap and good aerial skills.
Before joining Porto, he had spent all of his career in his native Brazil, with spells at União Mogi and Bragantino.
But his most notable club was Corinthians, where he made 70 appearances in four years.
He has impressed in his first season in Portugal, which has led to his first international call-up for the Brazilian national team.
How much will Felipe cost?
If AS are correct and the Real Madrid hierarchy have reached a verbal agreement for the 27-year-old to move to La Liga’s leaders ahead of next season, you will imagine it won’t be too hard to persuade Porto to sell – the club will not want to keep hold of a player who does not want to be there.
You wouldn’t expect any major issues, despite the Brazilian only arriving in Portugal last season, due to the historically good relationship between the two clubs.
Porto are in need of money though as they have to meet a €100million (£86.9million) debt during the summer – so they will obviously try and get the bets fee possible.
Felipe’s contract at the Estádio do Dragão runs until June 2021 and has a minimum release clause of €50million (£43.3million).
But AS claims sources close to the club have told their journalists that an offer between €25million (£21.7million) and €30million (£26million) will be enough to tempt Porto into selling Felipe.
Why do Real Madrid need him?
As aforementioned, it looks like Pepe is on his way out of the Bernabéu.
The Brazil-born Portuguese international has been a crucial player for Real Madrid over the past decade after arriving from Porto in 2007, helping them to win a variety of silverware, including two Champions Leagues, two La Ligas and two Copas del Rey.
READ MORE: How Zinedine Zidane Has Refined Real Madrid
But this season he has become an increasingly isolated figure, with Raphaël Varane, Sergio Ramos and Nacho all ahead of him at centre-back.
His future with Zinedine Zidane’s side is under question after negotiations between his agent Jorge Mendes and the Madrid hierarchy reached an impasse.
The 34-year-old wanted a two-year extension to his contract despite his age, something Los Blancos’ board were not willing to do.
And Cadena Cope claims the defender will become the latest major European star to head to China after reportedly agreeing a deal to move to Hebei China Fortune, managed by his former boss at the Bernabéu, Manuel Pellegrini.
How does Felipe compare to Pepe?
In terms of defensive statistics in the league so far this season, per 90 minutes, Felipe makes more successful tackles (1.3 to 0.9), more interceptions (2.3 to 1.6) and more blocks (0.6 to 0.5) than Pepe.
The Real Madrid man does make more clearances per 90 though (5.3 to 4.9).
However, you would probably want your defender to be making fewer tackles generally, as it suggests there is a problem further up the pitch or he is caught out of position.
But Felipe is yet to make a defensive error this season, while Pepe is on just one.
The 34-year-old also wins more of his duels, coming out on top in 61.7 per cent of his, compared to Felipe’s 59.2 per cent.
And if you compare that to the other Real Madrid options in the middle of defence, it’s about the same as Varane (59.3 per cent), above Nacho (52.4 per cent), but below Ramos (64.3 per cent).
Out of the quintuple, the Porto man has the lowest passing accuracy.
Just 83 per cent of Felipe’s passes are successful, compared to Pepe on 84 per cent, Varane on 87 per cent, Ramos on 89 per cent and Nacho on 91 per cent.
He also generally plays fewer passes per 90 minutes (45.1) than the current Madrid defensive options – Ramos plays the most at 59.6, followed by Varane at 55, Pepe at 54.1 and Nacho at 48.3.
And with Real Madrid one of the best teams around in the air, Felipe doesn’t fall too short compared to their current crop either.
He has won 72.5 per cent of his aerial duels, not too far off Ramos’ 73.4 per cent.
Pepe (75 per cent) and Varane (76.3 per cent) are out in front, while Nacho trails after winning just 59.2 per cent of his aerial duels in the league so far this season.
Whether Felipe would become a first team regular if he does join Real Madrid is uncertain, but there is definitely a spot up for grabs alongside Ramos – or there could be two if Zidane decides to try out the three at the back he’s been tempted by this season on occasion.