What Pedro can offer to an already strong Chelsea team
After spending over a decade at Camp Nou, Pedro decided to move on for new pastures, finding himself lurking in the shadow of the dugout at Camp Nou with Luis Suarez and Neymar taking over his place
Despite Jose Mourinho claiming that the 3-0 loss to Manchester City was a “completely fake” result, one could have almost sensed the need of a relatively big-name signing by Chelsea in order to add diversity and fill the fans’ hearts with delight after a stuttering start to the season.
And that’s exactly what Chelsea did when they announced the signing of Pedro. After spending over a decade at Camp Nou, Pedro decided to move on for new pastures, finding himself lurking in the shadow of the dugout at Camp Nou with Luis Suarez and Neymar taking over his place – the flanks – in the starting line-up. And, given his age, he would like to spend his peak years on the pitch rather than on the bench.
Jose Mourinho’s failed experiments
Everyone has a child within them, just ask Robin van Persie. And each child likes to play with toys. The restless ones, however, discard their relatively new toys if they don’t enjoy them after some time. One can safely assume, with history as a witness, that the child within Jose Mourinho is a restless one.
The first toy was Mohamad Salah. And then came Juan Guillermo Cuadrado. The Portuguese got bored of them both eventually as the former is plying his trade at Roma and the latter is most likely to be shown the door from which Pedro has entered.
To be fair to the aforementioned two, they never really got an extended chance to display their talents. Both of them found the pace of the Premier League unsettling and couldn’t adjust quickly with it. And to be fair to Mourinho, at a club like Chelsea, it is really hard to provide that given that the margin for error doesn’t exist.
As the Spaniard makes his way to London, one can only hope – for the sake of the child within the Special One – that he won’t bore his manager enough to discard him like Salah and Cuadrado.
What Pedro offers to Chelsea
Everyone has a good idea of what the Spaniard is capable of. He is quick and, most importantly, clever. It’s his cunningness that makes him a world class player without actually possessing extraordinary skills.
There is a famous quote by Johan Cruyff which goes, “nothing is more difficult than playing simple football.” And there aren’t many who do it better than the islander. He won’t pluck out his team-mates with a through-ball cutting through a crowd of defenders, he won’t float in a graceful cross on to the head of Diego Costa or Radamel Falcao and neither will he dribble past multiple defenders and score a goal that oozes individual brilliance.
But what he can – and will – do, no other Chelsea player can even think of.
Spaces can be found in abundance on a football pitch, but using them effectively is another thing altogether. There is another category, however, that even fewer can be associated with – using the most operative space among the many patches around. And Pedro falls in that third category.
It is not a coincidence that he scored so many of his goals in the final stages of a game when the opposition defense is tired and hence provides more free channel for him to exploit. Whenever a pocket of potential goalscoring space appears, Pedro will be the first one to make the run there and give the midfielder the chance to pick him out.
His frequent movement in the final third not only creates space for himself, but also for his team mates. Lionel Messi and co. operated with more freedom whenever he flanked the opposition and it was only for the magnificent Neymar and the incisive (no pun intended) Suarez that his stock fell – and even they don’t possess his street-smartness.
Where does he fit?
He can play on both the wings and can even be tried as the center-forward, but the flanks are where his unpredictability is at its finest. However, there is another place where he could flourish if given the chance – as an all-action di Maria-esque box-to-box midfielder, though this is a desperate shot at something many would label as fantasy.
He is most likely to start his career with the Blues as a back-up to the starters. His cunningness and pace means that he will be frequently brought on in the final moments of the game against tired legs. It is not to say that he won’t start games at Chelsea as he will most definitely feature against team that are frequently on the attack, like Arsenal, as it will provide him the space that he loves so much.
Victor Moses is a forgotten man and can’t even be considered as a challenger to the Spaniard. Then there is Cuadrado. The Colombian will most probably be playing in another shirt by the time the transfer window closes, but if doesn’t, he will find himself further down the pecking order with Pedro on board.
So that makes Willian his direct rival. The Brazilian has been a regular fixture for Jose’s men and isn’t going to lose his place to the Spaniard straight away. He, however, is a completely different player – someone who provides more than be provided himself.
In this regard, Chelsea have many players. Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic are incredibly creative and assist the striker with it. Willian adds to that luxury without giving much diversity. However, if Pedro plays on the right instead of the former Shakhtar star, the team will become more direct and quicker on the counter and there will be an added option for the midfielders to look to.
The reason that Jose Mourinho loves Willian so much is because of the Brazilian’s willingness to help the team win the ball back – something which the Portuguese looks in every player. And something which Cuadrado couldn’t live up to, although he is one of the most hard-working players in world football.
And that is the other thing that Mourinho saw in Pedro and went ahead to sign him, apart from the fact that both United and City had their eyes on him, is that his work-ethic. In Barcelona’s tiki-taka system, he was the forward that did the most defensive work and he is never shy to run back to get his dirty while trying to rob the opponent off the ball.
Regardless of where and when he operates, he is sure to give his team-mates more passing option. He could pop up at unused spaces and goal-scoring positions and score crucial goals that will help Chelsea in their surge for titles.
It is a funny world we live in, a world that weaves itself with the effect of the dominoes. If one scans the world of football to find a similar player, the name that will pop up first is that of Andre Schurrle – the former Chelsea forward. It was the German’s departure that left a hole that is yet to be filled and Pedro is Mourinho’s latest attempt at filling it.
And this time, the former Real Madrid boss might just be successful.