The current Bayern Munich manager has given Barcelona winger Pedro, a seal of approval, should his prospective move to Manchester United take place.
The word ‘underrated’ is thrown about so casually in modern football. Defensive midfielders, who are the beating heart of many sides, often get this tag due to their roles away from prolific goal-scoring. It seems a little odd then, that Pedro, a winger who has both a respectable record for Barcelona and Spain, bears this tag.
In the 11 years since joining the Catalan club, Pedro has won five La Liga titles, three Spanish Cups, and 3 UEFA Champions League titles, in addition to scoring 98 goals and bagging 50 assists. Though Pedro was initially to follow his compatriot Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, the appointment of Luis Enrique had supposedly convinced him to stay.
While he still managed 6 goals and 9 assists from 35 appearances, he was largely benched in favour of the famed attacking axis of Messi-Suarez-Neymar. While Pedro might still have a lot to offer, at 28, Barcelona might be looking for a younger talent to take his place on the left wing.
Despite his waning starts, Pedro is still a lethal player
If history teaches us anything, it is the fact that it not easy to hold a starting spot alongside Lionel Messi. Ibrahimovic, Henry, Sanchez and even David Villa fell prey to the talent that is Lionel Messi. Pep Guardiola however, always had one mainstay alongside Messi- Pedro.
While Messi started of as a right winger, his uncanny and often deadly switches to the centre forward position meant that he functioned as a number 10, 9 and even a winger. When he was inevitably made the focal point of the attack, Pedro became his constant companion in the front three, operating diligently from the right wing.
It isn’t surprising then, that Guardiola, who was instrumental in moulding Pedro, offers the winger his seal of approval ahead of a prospective move to Manchester United. The former Barcelona manager claimed that Pedro would find success with “any club in the world”.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Guardiola spoke regarding Pedro:
“These are rumors I’ve heard, but I do not know how the situation.
“If I was the Barcelona coach, I could tell you more. Regarding his abilities, there are no doubts: European champion with the national team and league champion with his club. He was won everything.”
“When you have played millions of matches with Barca you can play on any team in the world. He has played at many positions. I wish him the best because he is a great person and a great player.”
With a decline in appearances, Pedro’s buyout clause dipped dramatically from A?106 million to A?22 Million. In light of the transfer whirlwind that transpired after the publishing of that information, The Guardian reported Barcelona manager Luis Enrique saying:
a I dona t want anyone to leave but there is a clause. We have to respect his decision. I do not deceive anyone and I do not guarantee anyone playing time. It will be his personal decision.a
Whilst Enrique has respected Pedro and any decision he is likely to make, he has yet not planned for any departures, following Barcelona’s third successive pre-season defeat.
What can Pedro offer in comparison to Di Maria?
Angel Di Maria’s prospective transfer to PSG has left many fans irate. However, the arrival of Pedro might go a long way to easing any ill-will, and adding another dimension to United’s attack.
The purchase of Di Maria seemed a slightly odd one under van Gaal, as the Dutch manager hasn’t really worked with a player like Di Maria before. His exploits during the second half of Real’s La Decima season, came largely from the left central position, a position that he was unable to make his own at United. Though van Gaal should shoulder some of the blame, playing Di Maria as a second forward, his performances on the whole were generally underwhelming and inconsistent.
Pedro offers the exact opposite. For 11 years, he has become the model of consistency, displaying practicality and effectiveness over showmanship and glory. Moreover, Pedro seems like an ideal fit for Manchester United, as he will be more able to understand van Gaal’s philosophy.
He has effectively performed in a similar system at Barcelona, that combined metronomic distribution with lots of possession. In his years at Barcelona, Pedro has also played further forward, and possesses both penalty box acumen, as well as shooting capability. United fans are unlikely to forget his Champions League final winner, that showed both Pedro’s class and what he can prospectively bring to United.
Though 28, Pedro does not lack pace when it matters. He is an intelligent footballer who is a proven winner and performer at the very highest level. With Ashley Young ageing, and Mata inconsistently performing as a winger, Pedro’s capabilities could add just the right amount of connectivity and movement that United’s attack was lacking throughout the pre-season.