Carlo Ancelotti has expressed his satisfaction at having persuaded Pepe to remain at Real Madrid this season.
The Italian coach has revealed that Los Blancos' matchwinner in Sunday's vital 1-0 victory at Espanyol was considering his future at the Santiago Bernabeu last summer.
However, Ancelotti told the Portugal international that he had a significant role to play at Madrid, as so perfectly underlined by the headed goal in Catalunya that drew the club to within three points of co-leaders Barcelona and Atletico at the summit of La Liga.
"I think Pepe is having a very good season," the former AC Milan boss told reporters. "At the beginning [of the season], he was hesitant about staying but decided to after I told him he was important.
"I'm satisfied with the game as the team has balance, played good football and has not taken risks. We cut the points gap and that was the objective.
"Everything has gone well. We started the game slowly and suffered in the first 15 minutes but after that we had many opportunities. After the goal we controlled the game well."
The win moved Madrid to 47 points after 19 rounds of action and Ancelotti believes that they will have to do rack up another 53 in order to win the title.
"It's not normal but this is the Spanish League, where there are three very strong teams," he mused.
"We've said it before: 100 points is what it will take and we need to get them. It will not be easy but we have excitement and enthusiasm.
"It was an important moment because Atletico and Barcelona are doing well and there are not many chances to cut the gap. We have to be satisfied."