Besiktas centre-back Pepe says he would love Cristiano Ronaldo to follow him to the club if he leaves Real Madrid.
Speculation over the Portugal captain’s future has again emerged in recent weeks, with some reports claiming he has informed Madrid president Florentino Perez he wants to leave at the end of the season.
Pepe signed for Besiktas after his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu expired and his arrival became a hit on social media, thanks to the club’s ‘#ComeToBesiktas’ viral campaign and a video showing him speaking with the likes of compatriot and new team-mate Ricardo Quaresma.
The 34-year-old says Ronaldo is “an extremely important person” in his life and would encourage him to move to Istanbul if he desires a new challenge.
“Of course I would like for Cristiano to come here,” he told CNN.
“He’s a person for whom I have maximum respect; a friend; an extremely important person to me. If it were possible for this to happen, of course I’d love for him to come to Besiktas.”
Pepe also believes the perception of Ronaldo within some media circles is simply unfair.
“Off the pitch, Cristiano is an extremely normal person,” he said. “When something gets out in the media talking about him… I look and I say: ‘This can’t be. It’s a lie.’
“People talk without knowing the real Cristiano. He’s a normal person with normal habits like us.
“He likes his relatives. He loves his sons. He stresses the importance of being a father which I think is important. He’s does this perfectly and naturally.”
Pepe’s time in Turkey has been encouraging, with the Super Lig champions only four points off leaders Galatasaray in the top flight and with a place in the last 16 of the Champions League already secured.
The former Porto man, who is in line to face his old club on Tuesday, admits he turned down offers from major clubs to move to Vodafone Park but is delighted with his decision.
“I had many offers from many big, important European clubs,” he said. “When Besiktas came to me with their offer and their project, it grabbed my attention.
“Many, many people sent me messages on social media. I couldn’t not go. I couldn’t turn my back on all this affection that the people had given me.
“I said ‘I have to go to Besiktas. It’s impossible not to go to Besiktas!’
“It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before. Turkish people live football. Football is a passion of theirs. They demonstrate it with love and affection for their team.”