My piece for the Aspirer on Pedro to Manchester United
If reports are to believed then Manchester United is close to making another big summer transfer.
Numerous sources have reported on the Red Devils interest in Barcelona’s Pedro since last season ended. With Angel di Maria officially out the door, Louis van Gaal needs another wide presence who can fit into his system and improve his squad. Pedro would be just the player to fit that role, but one can’t help but wonder how this move affects all three parties should it occur.
Pedro has been an important part of Barcelona’s squad since the days of Pep Guardiola but saw his playing time decrease last season due the arrival of Luis Suarez, along with Neymar’s improvement and, of course, the un-droppable Lionel Messi. The Spaniard showed his quality when selected, though, including a fantastic goal against Real Sociedad but has found the situation difficult.
Pedro is 28 years old and is now in his peak years. Going to United would give Pedro a new challenge and would be a fitting end to what’s been a fantastic career.
Pedro won’t just be thinking of the challenge ahead though. A spot in Spain’s squad for the Euro 2016 is on the line as well. Joining a new club a year before a big tournament is always risky but the likely improvement in playing time would help his case.
His importance to Guardiola’s earlier teams has seen him labeled as a “system player.” While it’s true that Pedro is very much a player with Barcelona DNA, it fails to look at the entire picture. Pedro is an intelligent, efficient, clinical and consistent player. He’s been in the double digits in goals at Barcelona ever since becoming a regular starter. His positioning and movement allow him to get into dangerous positions and his technical skills are, as you would expect from a Barcelona product, superb.
Manchester United needed a replacement for Di Maria now that the soap opera is over. Van Gaal has history with Barcelona, and despite a seemingly pragmatic stance compared to the likes of Guardiola, his preferred style is one Pedro would be very accustomed to. The Dutch manager also prefers players who are willing to but the team first and work hard.
Pedro ticks all the boxes.
The Red Devils have trotted out a 4-2-3-1 during preseason but Van Gaal can go with a 4-3-3 knowing that Memphis Depay and Pedro could change sides while Wayne Rooney leads the line. The problem, if you can call it that, is how to keep a resurgent Ashley Young happy and give playing time to someone like Adnan Januzaj. A little healthy competition should only improve all the players involved though.
Pedro also brings with him plenty of experience at the international and club level. He’s used to winning as well. The Red Devils aren’t short of any of those attributes but having a player like Pedro, who’s used to playing in pressure situations, can only help.
And what of Barcelona?
The Catalan side is letting go their only experienced option besides the trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
Pedro chipped in six goals and six assists in the league season and was key to keeping the trio fresh. He was certainly worthy of, and deserving of, more but such was his task under Luis Enrique. Should he leave then Barcelona would be in a precarious position if anything happens to one of the starting three.
Youngsters Sandro and Munir would likely see more playing time and there are pros and cons to that. The duo will get a chance to prove they are capable of making the grade in the first team but their inexperience will be an issue. While they may only be relied upon early on, as they were last season, there’s still a risk that they will miss big chances and points dropped as a result. Arda Turan, the most obvious candidate to replace Pedro, can’t play until January due to the restrictions from their transfer ban.
Luis Enrique and teammates like Suarez have urged him to stay, yet a move seems more and more likely. There could be other issues that many outside the club aren’t privy to but it’s hard to see Barcelona letting this saga continue if they really wanted to him to stay. While Pedro has every right to pursue an opportunity like this, a chance to stay and create further history and defend a treble of titles must weigh on the mind.
There are three distinct sides to this saga, and it now looks like it’s going down to the wire as far as the transfer window goes. Manchester United and Pedro would surely be getting the better of the deal if it does occur.