Very sad news today with the confirmation that Pedro Rodriguez has signed for Chelsea for a reported fee of €27 million + €3 million in variables. The 28-year old scored 99 goals in 321 appearances for Barça since making his debut at the start of 2008. Barça are said to be looking seriously at Nolito as Pedro’s replacement but even if Nolito is signed now he will be illegible to play, like Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, until January.
Pedro’s desire to play more minutes is understandable, given the lack of opportunities due to the success of the Messi-Suárez-Neymar trident. However, his departure is a big loss for Barça and because of the FIFA transfer ban it comes at a very bad time. Pedro may not have the superstar status of Barça’s three main strikers but he has been an incredibly useful player over the last few seasons, playing his part in countless successes. The back-up strikers now are Sandro and Munir and despite showing promise they still have a way to go to find the consistancy needed at the top level. Rafinha offers another alternative though his preseason has been disappointing and he also needs to raise his game to be worthy of a regular start.
Pedro shot to fame when he scored in all six competitions during 2009, including the winner in the European Supercup Final against Shakhtar Donetsk and the vital 89th minute headed equalizer in Barça’s 2-1 victory over Estudiantes in the Club World Cup. He scored the opener in the 3-1 win over Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League Final at Wembley, he grabbed a brace in the 3-0 victory over Athletic Club in the 2012 Copa del Rey Final and last June he gave the assist for Neymar to score Barça’s third in the Champions League triumph against Juventus. Often seen as a talisman, his final blaugrana goal was worth another European Supercup as he grabbed the late winner in the thrilling 5-4 win over Sevilla nine days ago.
It was not just the goals he scored, his sacrifice for the team and always excellent workrate meant he was very often the first line in Barça’s pressing game. Whether on the right side or the left he always gave 100% and offered good support to the full-back in defence. His first touch was perhaps a bit heavy at times but only in comparison to some of his incredibly gifted teammates. Overall there should only be gratitude from Barça’s fans for the service Pedro has given us. It’s a shame he had to pick Mourinho’s Chelsea but I can only wish him future success in the game. Gracias por todo Pedro y hasta siempre!
Finally, an apology to regular readers for my absence the last couple of weeks. I’ll offer an overview of the Gamper and the two supercups in the preview for Sunday’s league opener against Athletic.