Barcelona 5-2 away to Getafe was far more difficult than the final score would suggest. Within the opening 15 minutes, Tata Martino’s side were two-nil down, with the Madrid side taking advantage of a rusty Dani Alves on Barcelona’s right side.
But it was Pedro who turned the game around with a nine-minute hat-trick, emerging from the shadow of Lionel Messi and more recently Neymar to keep Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table going into the winter break.
It proved to be a forgotten source. Pedro remains one of Barcelona’s better players under Pep Guardiola, but a failure to recapture those glory days consistently has relegated the winger to a place on the bench and the regular featuring of Alexis on the right.
Even after a fantastic display on the weekend – and the nine-minute hat-trick does do Pedro justice, plus an assist for Cesc Fabregas – the La Masia graduate’s future remains unclear.
Pedro has made no secret of his desire to remain at the Camp Nou, but his future will be decided based on the minutes he sees over the course of the season. It doesn’t bode too well that Alexis appears to be returning to form after an extremely poor campaign last term, and while the injury to Messi should theoretically open up a space in the front three, Martino has a preference for Cesc Fabregas in that central role.
Only 10 starts in the league this season has rightly led to Premier League clubs showing an interest. Manchester United in particular, whether he’s currently on their radar or not, should be looking to the Spain international as a means to upgrade the wide areas in the team.
Pedro is a significant step up from Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia. Under Guardiola, the youngster was given an opportunity, like Sergio Busquets, to prove that he was able to make the step up from the B team. One of the highlights of the winger’s career thus far was the opening goal in the 3-1 win over Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final, coming at the end of a two-year spell where he scored over 20 goals in consecutive seasons.
Pedro’s most obvious asset is his pace, providing the width that was crucial to Barcelona’s success in the past. The club now may be treating him as expendable, based on his rotation in and out of the side over the past 18 months, but there would be no shortage of suitors should be become available. At 26, Pedro is approaching the prime of his career, one which has already seen him win everything there is to win in the game.
It’s also telling that last season – an odd one for the Catalans despite their title win – the most effective line up of the Guardiola era was reintroduced for a crucial Champions League tie. With Barcelona 2-0 down against AC Milan in the last 16, Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova, started a front three of David Villa, Messi and Pedro, resulting in a 4-0 demolition of the Italians.
The game against Getafe should act as an indicator as to how important Pedro can be: he stepped up in the absence of Barcelona’s primary goal threats and turned the game on its head. His pace, intelligent, direct running, and finishing ability caused havoc and noticeably upset a Getafe side who were buoyed by their early lead.
With a contract that reportedly runs until 2016, Barcelona will be mindful of a player who has expressed a desire for more minutes – either at the Camp Nou or elsewhere. Manchester United should be at the front of the queue if the winger decides on a move in the near future.