Over the last few weeks, virtually every major club in Europe has been linked with Barcelona’s wantaway winger Pedro. It seems the Spaniard’s time at the Nou Camp has come to an end after inevitably failing to reclaim his starting role from a four-time Ballon d’Or winner, a £75million striker and another forward so ludicrously expensive former Barca president Sandro Rosell opted to resign rather than reveal his actual transfer fee.
He’s been hardly left short of potential next destinations. Respective domestic champions Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG have all been linked with the 5 foot 6 attacker over the last few months, whilst Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United represent sustained interest from our own top flight. But in my opinion, Pedro should only be considering a move to the Premier League right now, just as Premier League clubs in need of a winger should only be considering Pedro. Here’s why.
First off, it’s worth pointing out the Spain international’s £22million release clause represents sensational value for money, on par with Liverpool’s bosman capture of James Milner and United’s £14million swoop for Bastian Schweinsteiger. After all, this is a three-time Champions League winner, a five-time La Liga winner, a European Championship winner and a World Cup winner still firmly in his prime at the age of 27. That’s the kind of experience and silverware you’d expect of a flagging veteran – like the aforementioned Schweini – but Pedro could have five or six years yet ahead before his joints start giving up.
Of course, value for money will appeal to clubs all across Europe, but particularly those in a top flight that’s decimated its spending record pretty much every year without fail since the turn of the millennium. Whilst the size of transfer fees appears to directly correlate with excitement amongst the fan base nowadays, Pedro is a signing chairmen and managers will feel the biggest affection towards – because he’s a world-class player without a world-class price-tag.
Considerably more pertinent, however, is Pedro’s individual style of play. Alexis Sanchez has changed the face of the Premier League since moving to Arsenal for £35million last summer and his former Barcelona team-mate has the potential to do the same, blessed with a similar blend of technical flair, pace, energy and netting prowess.
The Chile international has always been a little more potent than Pedro, outscoring him for all three of their campaigns together at the Nou Camp. But there’s an intrinsic difference that might make the Spaniard even more suitable to the Premier League than Sanchez; the latter being a predominantly skilful player, compared to the incredibly industrious, gritty and determined former.
Sanchez is by no means lackadaisical but Pedro’s work rate and stamina is firmly within the realms of world class – two attributes that continue to accelerate in importance for Premier League forwards and widemen with every season. After all, we’re talking about the running man, the work-horse, the engine room, who balanced the considerably less industrious styles of Lionel Messi and David Villa for what is still widely viewed as the greatest club XI of all time – the 2011 Champions League winning Barca side.
Former Barcelona manager Tata Martino summarises it perfectly; “Pedro’s secret is that he never gives up.” He’s their Johnny Walters, their Hamez Milner; the unsung hero who enters every game like his life depends on victory.
I’ve always been a firm believer that mentality and attitude can exceed talent in the Premier League like no other top flight in world football, not that the 27 year-old is particularly short of ability. Many stellar names have arrived from abroad only to feel lost in our high-octane matches and attritional mid-table skirmishes, especially those of Pedro’s slender build or those spawned from technique-centric academies like Barcelona’s famous La Masia.
But the Spaniard has always been a warrior first – a hassler, a hurrier, a harasser of the opposition who works hard for every single goal – and players of that ingrained mentality have a knack of thriving in the Premier League. I’m certain that will be the case with Pedro as well.
So if you’re Arsenal, Liverpool or United – or for that matter, just a Premier League club with a spare £22million – your transfer policy for the next six weeks should be dominated by one single, crucial objective – sign Pedro.