Three reasons why Chelsea is better option than Man United for Pedro
Paul McNamara gives three reasons why Chelsea is better option than Man United for Barcelona star Pedro
No substitute for feeling wanted
Since rumours first surfaced of Manchester United’s interest in the player, Pedro’s move from Barcelona to Old Trafford has looked to be something of a fait accompli. The apparent inevitability of the transfer notwithstanding, the whispers that Louis van Gaal didn’t really fancy the player have been growing louder this week. Given that Pedro is leaving Barca, ostensibly, to play regular football, a switch to work under a manager not entirely won over by the attacker’s merits would not have been a risk worth taking. And as soon as Chelsea declared their desire to take him to Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard was handed an extremely credible alternative option. Jose Mourinho, it would seem, has no qualms about the Barcelona man’s pace, a feature of his game that reportedly concerned Van Gaal. Moreover, the London club made no attempt to play hardball on the buyout clause in their target’s contract. Any player weighing up where to play his football would surely be slighted by news that a potential suitor isn’t prepared to stump up the asking price for his services. When the buying club is Manchester United, with all their financial might, and they are quibbling over the timing of their payment of a small chunk of the £21.2m fee, then even a man of this three-times Champions League winner’s stock would be anxious about his prospective new employer’s commitment to the deal. By contrast, one of the reasons that Chelsea’s reluctance to bite the bullet and part with the money that Everton want for John Stones is so baffling is the ruthlessness that the Blues are usually associated with in the transfer market. Pedro will be as aware of that hard-streak as anyone, having seen his old Barca colleague Cesc Fabregas spirited away to west London less than a month after the end of the 2013/2014 La Liga campaign. Roman Abramovich and Mourinho identified the man they wanted, and then went and got him. Fabregas, in turn, repaid his new club’s owner and manager with his colossal contribution to Chelsea’s subsequent title winning season. So far as precedents go, the one set by his international team-mate isn’t a bad one for Pedro to follow: Go where you’re wanted – and thrive.
The obvious consequence for a player joining a club where his assets are truly valued is that he is extremely likely to be integral to his manager’s plans. Furthermore, setting aside Van Gaal’s supposed doubts about the player, there is no vacant spot waiting to be filled in the three attacking slots that the Dutchman employs, behind a lone forward. In fact, the Old Trafford roster is already very well-staffed in this position, even more so now that Adnan Januzaj has edged his way back into United’s first-team-frame. There is no arguing with Pedro’s credentials, but off the back of a season in which he was predominantly used by Barca boss Luis Enrique from the bench, the 28 year-old would have been thrust into a battle for a starting berth at Old Trafford with Juan Mata, Memphis, Januzaj, Ashley Young, and, conceivably, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini. While Chelsea might be similarly blessed in this department – think, Oscar, Willian, Eden Hazard, Ramires and, potentially, Fabregas – there is evidence to suggest that Mourinho isn’t convinced that he has struck the right balance, here. The Portuguese has long since been after a flyer on the right, to ape Hazard’s efforts on the opposite side of the pitch – and the Chelsea boss is rather particular about the type of individual he has in mind for the job. Neither Andre Schurrle, nor Kevin De Bruyne, already at the club when Mourinho took charge in 2013, could do enough to persuade their manager that they were the right fit for his incessant pressing game. Two men bought in by Mourinho to take on the role have fared no better. Mohamad Salah lasted a year at the Bridge following his move from Basel, before being shipped off for a loan spell at Fiorentina. The Egyptian will be spending this term at Roma on a similar arrangement. As Salah headed out of the revolving door in February, bound for Florence, he was passed by Juan Cuadrado, the Colombian travelling in the opposite direction at the cost to Chelsea of roughly £23m. In the space of eight months and a smattering of appearances for his current club, the favoured prefix when writing about Cuadrado has morphed from Colombian World Cup Star into Chelsea Flop. It’s a tough school, Chelsea. Reared at the Nou Camp, one can assume that Pedro won’t shrink in the face of the pressure of playing for the Premier League champions – and the fact that he won’t be daunted by the challenge means that Pedro will definitely play.
The main man
Assuming the deal to take Pedro to Chelsea is completed, he will become the second most decorated player currently playing in the English top-flight; his 15 trophies won for club and country lagging behind only Bastian Schweinsteiger’s haul of 18. Despite that glittering CV, Pedro has always been considered more a member of the chorus line with Barcelona and Spain, rather than being counted as a main protagonist in the efforts of either side. It is a harsh deal for a man who has scored in Champions League and Spanish Cup finals, as well as finding the net in Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup fixtures. On each occasion, Pedro’s goals came in a victorious cause. When a close inspection of those winning Barca sides through the years reveals players in their number of the calibre and stature of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Neymar, Luis Suarez and the incomparable Lionel Messi, then the explanation for Pedro’s reduced standing becomes clear. By moving to Manchester United, the 2010 World Cup winner could have found himself in the same boat, operating a tier below the club’s foremost performers. Van Gaal can’t select from a group of players to match those Catalonia based superstars, but he does already have an array of distinguished names to call upon. The same is true at Chelsea, with one key difference: all of the Blues’ main men have been in situ for at least a year. No matter how successful a football club is, supporters are always on the lookout for the next big thing. United have provided their fans with a steady flow of fresh talent this summer. Their capital based counterparts, meanwhile, have served up slim pickings to their followers, of late. Remarkably, two games into the defence of their title, there are a few dark clouds circling above Chelsea. They would be dispersed by the signing of a player with the potential to alter the narrative of their iffy start. Pedro could be just that man, centre stage at last.