After being strongly linked to Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United, Jose Mourinho pickpocketed the Red Devils and on 20th August 2015, signed for then, Champions of England, Chelsea FC for £21 million on a 4-year contract. From there, the Spanish from a career as a blue unfolded but who was this Pedro?
A World Cup winner, triumphing Europe at both club and national level with multiple domestic accolades domestically at then club, Barcelona, Pedro was bringing with him his pace, skill, and eye for goal, keeping a 30-yard stunner in his holster and vast experience to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. He’d go on to wear the number 17 jersey.
“He (Pedro) wasn’t quite Maradona but he was close. He’s a very good player. There is always a question mark because of how many top players come to England and don’t perform immediately,” were the words of a pleased Jose after a man of the match performance against West Bromwich Albion where he bagged a goal and assist in his debut for Chelsea. It was nothing but a dream start and the quick adaptability is all the Chelsea folklore could dream of. The English Premier League is arguably the hardest league to adapt to and the fact that Pedro learned so quickly was a bonus and gave fans a reason to be excited for what was to follow. Having spent all his years in Barcelona, playing the “Tiki-taka” way of football, anyone really would be concerned.
Mourinho admitted that he was concerned over how quickly Pedro would adapt to Premier League football, having spent his entire professional career at the Nou Camp, but never doubted the 28-year-old’s ability.
“We have examples in our club and there are lots of examples at other clubs, so it’s very nice for him to come and straight away perform the way he did,” the manager said (BBC, 2015)
Unfortunately, that would turn out to be an abysmal season that saw Jose sacked and Pedro would go on to make 29 domestic appearances and score 7 while assisting only twice. He made 6 appearances in the Champions League but sadly did not score any goals. It was certainly a season that no Chelsea player wished to remember. Pedro’s season resurgence would be the 2016/17 under Antonio Conte.
With neither the Europa League nor Champions league to prepare for, that would serve as a blessing in disguise for Chelsea. Pedro got awarded the number 11 Jersey and found himself playing in a system I’d bet he never thought he would find himself in. Domestically he bagged 9 goals and 9 assists but the story goes far beyond just stats. Pedro’s lightning pace and defensive awareness were crucial to Conte’s title-winning season that saw a lot of counter-attacking prowess from either wing as he linked up well with Diego Costa and coming short to receive the ball from Matic and Kante, or to be on the receiving end of a Fàbregas through ball. His high intensity in pressing and dribbling abilities were vital to a system that often transitioned from a back 3 to back 5. He could work as an outlet when Chelsea are sitting deep splitting a team with just one correctly connected through ball from deep. His best and memorable goal was arguably that 20-yard stunner at Goodison Park. Defensively, in the EPL, Pedro made 48 tackles winning 36 of them, meaning he won 75% of the tackles he made. He made 21 interceptions and 11 clearances which shows just how defensively active he was. Chelsea would go on to win the English Premier League title adding to Pedro’s long list of accolades.
In the FA cup, Pedro played 5 times scoring 4 goals but unfortunately, the blues came up short in the FA Cup final.
In Conte’s last “suffer ball” era, the 17/18 season, Pedro bagged a handful of goals with 4 all season in the Premier League with 2 assist, 2 goals in the FA Cup, 1 in the Carabo and just 1 in the Champions League. It wasn’t such a great season for the Spaniard as the 3-4-3 formation didn’t play to his strengths, being asked to play more central when he preferred being much wider. Could have been the effect of Diego Costa leaving and breaking that Spanish link or could have been Pedro’s years finally catching up to him. On the bright side of things, he was able to add to his accolades when Chelsea FC emerged as Champions in that season’s FA Cup. Having a 20% conversion rate on the EPL also wasn’t looking good for his stats as he prepared for another season without Champions League football.
In the 18/19 season, under new manager Maurizio Sarri, he was a regular figure in the Premier League with 31 appearances scoring 8 times and assisting twice. He was vital In Sarri’s new-look possessional football taping into his old Barcelona days with making smart runs in behind the fullbacks. He was also crucial in a Europa League-winning campaign, bagging 5 goals. His goal in the Europa League final added to one of the many finals that Pedro has scored in. Pretty decent season from Pedro in a season where Eden Hazard was the pinnacle of attention and did nearly everything himself.
19/20 season under Frank, Pedro started off very well, looking sharp in attack but was subsequently halted by an injury that in turn saw him fall behind the pecking order. Nevertheless, he has shown what he can still do in recent games. Sadly, a conclusive analysis of the 19/20 season cannot be given with the spread of the COVID-19.
It’s also worth pointing out that at just £21m and at the peak age of 28, he was definitely a low risk – potential high reward signing, and it paid off for Chelsea, especially given that Chelsea wasn’t exactly chasing after him all summer long.
With a few pages left in Pedro’s story at the bridge, now is actually a good time for Pedro to leave with Bridge and carrying his head held high contributing the best he could. A calm character who never complained about playing time neither did he try to force a move away setting a good example in the dressing room. A true professional who through good and bad games tried to show character. This man has probably won more trophies than the entire Arsenal + Spurs squads combined yet even after barely getting any minutes, he’s been respectful to the club and just quietly gone about his job. His long-range finishing, pace and defensive work are things he can be remembered for at the bridge. He was never the signing of an “Eden Hazard” caliber but he is definitely been a true team player. Chelsea legend? Not in my opinion but a true blue and one to always remember. His departure should see the likes of CHO and Mount to step up to the task. We can only be glad he’s leaving on good terms with the club and the relationship hasn’t been tarnished. With 3/4 more years left in his career, we can only wish Pedro the very best in his future endeavours.
Written By: @CFC_Maniac