Pepe says he knows nothing about teammate Angel Di Maria’s reported wish to leave Real Madrid for Monaco in January.
Di Maria had been expected to move on last summer due to Gareth Bale’s big-money arrival in Madrid, but Mesut Ozil was instead offloaded to Arsenal on the final day of the transfer window.
Di Maria then impressed as Bale struggled with fitness issues in his first months in Spain but, with the Welshman now firing on all cylinders, the Argentina winger faces a battle for first-team football.
He made a point of showing his dismay when substituted early in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Olimpic de Xativa in the Copa del Rey, amid reports he wanted to join the big-spending Ligue 1 side to ensure regular football ahead of next summer’s World Cup.
Pepe, who is also represented by Di Maria’s agent Jorge Mendes, told reporters in quotes published on the club’s official website that he had noticed no change in his teammate’s attitude or demeanour.
“[Di Maria] looks fine to me,” he said. “He is a fantastic player and an important part of our squad. He always helps the team, like every other player in this squad.”
Pepe was speaking at the news conference ahead of Madrid’s Champions League group game at Copenhagen -- an event that was interrupted when a Greenpeace banner reading ‘Save the Arctic Show Gazprom the Red Card’ was lowered right behind the defender and Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
When the message had been bundled away by embarrassed officials, the Portugal international said that Madrid were taking the game very seriously, even though first place in the group was already assured.
“We are taking this game totally seriously because we wear a very important shirt,” Pepe said. “Tomorrow the players will take to the field wanting to win the game. We know it will be difficult, but from the first minute we want to show why we have come here. We are professionals and we always want to win and tomorrow we will do the same.”