How Chelsea hijacked Manchester United's move for Pedro
Chelsea have beaten Manchester United to the signing of Pedro from Barcelona and are expected to confirm the signing before their next game in the Premier League, according to the Guardian. The Blues triggered Pedro’s release clause of about £21.5m, which will see the Spanish international undergo his medical at the club’s training centre in Surrey.
The Premier League champions have reportedly pulled off another smart transfer that shares many similarities with Willian’s move from Shakhtar Donetsk, where the player joined Chelsea after nearly initially looking at Tottenham Hotspur. It has handed a massive blow to United’s interest in the player as their vice-chairman had been negotiating with Barcelona over a possible deal for the Spaniard over the past few weeks.
Pedro nearly joined Manchester United but was persuaded to go to London by Cesc Fabregas and Jose Mourinho, although he had always harboured doubts about playing for United manager Louis van Gaal.
Let us have a look at how the whole saga panned out:
Manchester United show interest in Pedro after Angel di Maria departure
After selling Angel di Maria to Paris Saint Germain on a loss, Louis van Gaal was disappointed but had already started looking for potential replacements. He outlined this when he spoke to the press after the Argentine’s £46m move.
“Di Maria, we have solved that problem but it is for us a big loss.” the Dutchman said. “When I say I want more attackers with speed and creativity, Di Maria is one of those players so we have to look for those kinds of players."
Barcelona forward Pedro was earmarked as the primary target for the Reds after the player publicly discussed his future and reported interest from Manchester United with the press. The 28-year-old seemed to fancy a new challenge and the prospect of regular playing time, and the presence of a Spanish contingent at the Old Trafford would help him settle in quickly.
"I've not said what Robert's said, or at least not how I said it," Pedro told a Spanish broadcaster after scoring the 115th minute winner in Barcelona’s 5-4 UEFA Super Cup triumph against Sevilla.
“The truth is that I had a good chance to play. The coach has decided not to count on me. I don't know, I don't know if I will continue here,"
"Manchester? Yes, there are nice challenges on all sides. Today I'm here, and I'm happy. And if I go, I will go with my head held high having always given everything." he replied, when asked about Manchester United’s reported interest.
United’s Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward began crunch talks with Barcelona officials and had reportedly managed to reach a personal agreement with Pedro, but nothing was confirmed yet with Chelsea rumoured to be looming dangerously.
Pedro agrees personal terms but stalls talks due to concern over Louis van Gaal’s treatment of Spanish players
The Euro Championship and World Cup winner was clearly enticed by the interest from Manchester, but was deliberating his move to Old Trafford after watching his compatriots David de Gea and Victor Valdes suffer at the hands of Louis van Gaal.
The former Netherlands manager banished Victor Valdes from the United squad after the former Barcelona keeper failed to follow his philosophy by not partaking in U-21 games, and left out de Gea from his squad as well because of his involvement in one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer transfer window.
With increasing speculation about the move, van Gaal decided against releasing details when he spoke to the press.
"You have to ask Pedro, not me. My answer is it's a process, it's a club, it's a player, and we are there also,” he said. “I don't mention anything until he has signed. When he has signed I come to you and say 'hey, Pedro is here'. That is still not the case. We shall wait and see."
Chelsea revive interest in Pedro and trigger his release clause
After reportedly turning down the chance to sign Pedro in January and showing a little interest in him earlier this summer, Chelsea tried to steal the winger from under Manchester United’s noses by meeting his release clause. An estimated £21.5m bid was submitted by the London club with the help of their director Marina Granovskaia, which was inclusive of add-ons.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho couldn’t get his long-term target in the winter transfer window because he was cup-tied after playing Champions League football with Barcelona that season, which led the Portuguese tactician to sign Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina. The Colombian hasn’t adapted to the Premeier League since his £27 million move, making 12 league appearances and scoring no goals.
Chelsea’s bid was also significantly higher than anything Manchester United were prepared to offer, giving them a distinct advantage.
Louis van Gaal decided against signing Pedro following United’s 3-1 win over Club Brugge
United’s interest in Pedro cooled off after the club struggled to trigger Pedro’s release clause, and this was helped by Louis van Gaal’s satisfaction at his side’s attacking performance during their 3-1 success over Club Brugge in their Champions League qualifier at Old Trafford.
Memphis Depay’s brace and Fellaini’s injury-time goal helped Manchester United to a convincing win in the first leg of the qualifier as they bid to return to Europe’s elite competition after a year away.
With Ashley Young, Januzaj, Valencia and even Mata providing potential options on the flanks, van Gaal has decided that it is unnecessary to bring in another winger. But all those suggestions have been quashed after fresh speculation arose about their bid for Southampton forward Sadio Mane.
The Senegalese international can play on either wing, and has scored six times in 22 league appearances since leaving Red Bull Salzburg in 2014. The Saints are not ready to sell a player they had brought in only last season, although he could move if the Reds have their way.
Cesc Fabregas and Mourinho speak to Pedro with Barcelona’s permission
Cesc Fabregas and Jose Mourinho contacted Pedro after Chelsea’s bid was accepted by Barcelona. According to the Guardian, the Chelsea player and manager were given permission by the Catalan club to speak with their winger, and the two persuaded him to chose Stamford Bridge over Old Trafford in their conversations.
Former Barcelona team-mate Fabregas is very good friends with Pedro and has also played with him for the Spanish National Team in the past. The midfielder empathised with his friend’s frustration at his lack of playing time at the Camp Nou and offered assurances to him regarding life in London. He was joined by Jose Mourinho, who provided an explanation about his plans for the winger as they attempt to get their season back on track.
If the medical is successful, Pedro could be ready to start for the Blues in their next Premier League fixture against West Brom at the Hawthorns.