Chelsea made the long-rumored move official on Wednesday when it made its first major addition of the summer by swooping in to sign winger Pedro for £21M from Barcelona. While the player must still pass his medical, the deal looks like it is officially done.
Chelsea had been in the mix for Pedro since the summer after it became clear that Pedro was expendable thanks to the dynamic Neymar-Suarez-Messi trifecta up front for the Catalans. Pedro scored 99 goals in over 326 appearances for Barcelona, where he came up through their academy. Pedro’s last appearance for Barcelona will be scoring the winning goal in the club’s 5-4 win over domestic rival Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup last week. Pedro, whose full name is Pedro Eliezer Rodriguez Ledesma, has also been a regular fixture of the Spanish national team.
By putting the pen to paper with Pedro, Chelsea topped rival Manchester United who was also trying to work a deal for the 28-year-old playmaker. The Telegraph has reported that United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had traveled to Barcelona this week to try and finalize the deal for the Spanish superstar. During United’s haggle over price, Chelsea dispatched manager Jose Mourinho and former teammate Cesc Fabregas to recruit Pedro and tell him how much he would enjoy living in London and playing in Mourinho’s system. “Operation Pedro” (which sounds like it could be so many things) was an unmitigated success, Pedro spurned United and will instead be making the move to Stamford Bridge.
Pedro should be able to immediately make a contribution to a Chelsea side that is off to its worst start in the league since 1998. The club has come out flat and has looked uninspiring in both its 2-2 home draw against Swansea and 3-0 “fake loss”/destruction at the hands of Manchester City. It is expected that Pedro will immediately take over on the right side opposite Eden Hazard, which should greatly increase Chelsea’s attacking versatility and depth. A proven goalscorer, Pedro will represent an upgrade in that department over current starter Willian. With Pedro’s arrival, Willian could be left out of Chelsea’s regular starting 11, but could also challenge Oscar for starting time in the middle of the 3 in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1. Pedro also has experience playing up front for Barcelona, which only makes the impact of his arrival for Chelsea more profound, given the proven lack of depth behind established but often-injured striker Diego Costa.
Pedro’s arrival could also spell the merciful conclusion to the disastrous Juan Cuadrado era at the Bridge. Cuadrado signed for Chelsea from Fiorentina in January, but has not looked like the same player since coming to England. He hasn’t been able to pass, shoot, or dribble, but other than that...he’s been great. It also casts doubt on whether Mourinho will truly commit to giving Victor Moses serious playing time this season, or if Moses will once-again go out on a season-long loan. Of course, Chelsea could try and keep one or both players to have more proven options up front, and the ability to play more than just the regular 11 players for the entire season. But....well that would be ridiculous.
The move has been very well received by Chelsea fans, both for the player that is being brought in as well as the reasonable amount of money spent to get him. Combined with the £21.7M move for Augsburg left back Baba Rahman, the Board has been “wagging the dog” to take the attention away from its tremendously disappointing start to the Premier League season both on and off the pitch. #wemissyouevacarneiro. Well played Jose.
Chelsea plays at West Bromwich Albion in the early match on Sunday morning at 8:30 AM EST on NBC Sports Network. If all goes well, we may see the Spaniard get his first action in England over breakfast that morning.
Follow Mike Smith on Twitter @thefootiegent