By and large, Manchester United have had a very successful transfer window so far. But now, they might be able to strengthen their ranks even more with double the Pedro.
Yes, you read that right. The Red Devils are pursuing not only the Barca striker, but have now also launched a £2.8million bid for Palmeiras right-back Joao Pedro, according to the Metro.
The 18-year-old defender scored one goal in 17 appearances for Palmeiras in 2013-14, but spent much of the last season playing for the Brazil U20 team, and impressed while doing so. Pedro started 13 times in total for Brazil in the 2015 U20 South American Championship and the U20 World Cup, playing the full 90 minutes in every game but one.
The latter tournament, though, was where he really excelled. The right-back’s performance drew praise from many critics who had underestimated Brazil’s defensive ability after the Green and Yellow barely snaked into the top four in the South American Championship.
Pedro started every game of the U20 World Cup, providing two assists to propel Brazil to the final. Pedro and the Brazilian defence didn’t concede a single goal through the play-offs until the final, where they eventually suffered a tough 2-1 loss in extra time to Serbia.
Manchester United have a wealth of defenders — including new signing Matteo Darmian — and a reliable left-back in Luke Shaw, but what happens when Antonio Valencia retires from the right side?
Up until this past season, the 29-year-old Valencia played most of his career as a winger or attacking midfielder, but has seen his consistency lag in the last few years. Although he did quite a good job as a defender in the 2014-15 campaign, it would serve Louis van Gaal well to have a young out-and-out right-back like Pedro in the squad.
Similar to Valencia, Pedro likes to dribble and is very aggressive. He averaged 2.4 tackles per game in 2014, the second-highest of the Palmeiras team, all while blocking 0.5 shots per game.
The Brazilian also has very good ball control on the ground and uses it to his advantage, able to dribble past opposition inside his own half and pass out a short ball to teammates waiting on the flank. He struggles with long balls and crossing, but still maintains a pass success rate of 81.4 percent.
Where Pedro needs improvement, however, is controlling the ball in the air and controlling his challenges. The 5-foot-10 player is more often than not overmatched in aerial duels, and commits a lot of fouls.
However, for a player so young, the pros far outweigh the cons. Especially after van Gaal announced his intention to switch to a 4-3-3 formation for the upcoming Premier League season, the Red Devils need defenders willing to not only push the line up, but to intuitively and fearlessly defend against the system’s vulnerability to counter-attacks.
It is time for United to begin building a team that can last long-term, and Joao Pedro is an essential brick to be laid in his defensive foundation.