Wednesday November 30 2011
‘Pepe was close to Zenit’

Juventus boss Antonio Conte blocked Simone Pepe from joining Zenit St Petersburg before the start of the 2011-12 campaign.

The Italian has been a key ingredient to the Old Lady’s successful season, but it has been confirmed on Wednesday that there was the possibility of an August Turin exit.

“Pepe was close to joining Zenit St Petersburg in the summer,” agent Giovanni Branchini told Sky Sport Italia. “Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti asked for the player on loan.

“Conte, though, was decisive in the decision to keep him. He was the one who wanted him to remain in black and white.”

Pepe, 28, has been used in a variety of midfield positions for Conte as the Coach has fielded a number of different formations.

“Pepe is a very useful player and he needs to be used in a role where he is involved in the play,” Branchini continued.

“The more he gets into games, the more his qualities emerge. He is one of the few players who are able to combine velocity with quality.”

The former Udinese and Roma player has scored four goals in 12 games for the Bianconeri so far this term.