With Barcelona bringing in Luis Suarez at the start of last season, Pedro has been locked out of the Barcelona starting eleven. He can play on either the left or the right, but these positions are almost permanently occupied by Suárez, Messi or Neymar.
Pedro’s New Barcelona Contract
At the end of last season, Pedro signed a new contract with the Catalan giants, keeping him at the club until 2019. This may lead you to believe that he’s staying put but, the most noticeable part of his new contract is that his buyout clause was reduced from €150 million to €30 million.
The out-of-favour winger and Barcelona appear to see mutual benefits from him parting ways with the current Champions League champions. Also, Barcelona, despite currently being in a “transfer ban”, imposed by FIFA, have signed Atlético Madrid winger Arda Turan. He can also play either wing and would also be a backup to the epic strike force of Neymar, Messi and Suárez, despite being a great first team player for Atlético.
But who will buy him? Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are reportedly chasing the Spanish winger; however is he worth his €30 million (£21 million) price tag? Just because he plays for Barcelona, doesn’t mean that he meets the quality of calibre most associated with a player.
Barcelona’s Utility Forward
Pedro will play comfortably on either wing, and has on occasion played as a centre forward. However, he will only play the full 90 minutes in less than half of his games each season.
Only 30.2% of Pedro’s Barcelona appearances have been for a full game. To add to this, in 39% of his appearances he’s on the field for less than an hour. Pedro has not been a consistent first-choice player during his Barcelona career.
Despite this, he has scored 98 goals for Barcelona, which is close to scoring a goal every 3 games. Considering that his average game time is 60.2 minutes, this is quite impressive; until you look at the teams he’s scored against. Only 12 of these goals were scored against teams that could pose a challenge to Barcelona. Pedro has scored a goal against: Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Sevilla, and Valencia. He also scored one against United, in their 3:1 win in the Champions League final. Against Inter he has 2 goals, and he’s netted 5 times against El Clásico rivals Real Madrid.
Pedro’s record against Madrid is very good. In 21 matches, the most he’s played against any team, he scored 5 goals, but has 0 assists. Barcelona were unbeaten in the 5 games that Pedro scored in and, in games that he played, Barcelona won 8, drew 6 and lost 7. So with Pedro, Barcelona just manages to edge out Real.
However, none of the goals against decent opponents have come in the last 2 seasons, where he’s scored 30 goals and assisted 22.
The reason he’s a utility player is because, throughout his Barcelona career, he’s been played on either wing and sometimes upfront. He is regularly only played: against much weaker opponents; to cover for an injury or; he’s subbed on. If he was more than just a utility player, he would average more than 60.2 minutes a game. Even John O’Shea, United’s famous defensive utility man, averaged 69.2 minutes per game. Due to their positional bias you can’t compare much further than the average minutes per game but, you can say that O’Shea played a more crucial role at United than Pedro has at Barcelona.
With the standard of Manchester United’s opponents being so much better, and closer in ability, than those that Barcelona face each week; you can see how O’Shea’s appearances were more necessary to United’s club success than Pedro’s have been to Barcelona’s own club success.
Should Van Gaal Sign Him?
For £21 million? A fee greater than what United paid for Depay, Young or Valencia. Definitely not. For a start, an excess of £20 million should only be warranted by the purchase of a starting eleven player. It’s very hard to see him playing in front of Juan Mata or Ashley Young, given that they managed to keep the world class Angel Di Maria out of the team with their performances last season.
In 12 games against Premier League opposition, Pedro only made the team 8 times. In 3 of those 8 he was subbed on, one of these being for just 1 minute. Over the 8 games he scored 1 goal.
Despite all that’s been shown here, Pedro is a decent player; he has skill, technique and a good shot, but United have better players in their ranks. Pedro is 28 years old, and Ashley Young is currently 30, so if the idea is to bring in Pedro as back up, it’s a poor one. If Young retires or leaves in the next 2 or 3 years, then United will have to turn to a 30 year old Pedro, who has never been a consistent starting eleven player.
There’s also the argument that LvG might be buying him as a first choice winger, or striker. This would fail, immensely. It’s very hard to see Pedro playing over Juan Mata and would most likely come in to replace Young. With United’s current starting line up, Luke Shaw is their biggest liability. Luckily, his defensive inabilities are largely concealed by Ashley Young working back. Van Gaal plays Young because he is a hard worker and covers the whole wing. It’s hard to see Pedro doing the same thing. He would most likely be a sub in player, much like he is at Barca.
United’s best option, if Van Gaal still wants a forward, is to buy a real striker. Someone like Icardi, Lacazette or Cavani. Then push Rooney back to centre forward, where Depay has been playing, so that he can play his best game of collecting the ball and sending it to the striker, whilst occasionally scoring. Then United’s hot prospect, Memphis Depay, can be a back up to Young as, for the majority of Depay’s career, he’s been a left winger.
If LvG is intent on keeping his current system, with the players staying where they’ve been so far, then Andreas Pereira could be his new forward. He’s quick and creative, and wouldn’t need to play too many games to further his development. This also means that Young can keep his first team role.
Far better players can be brought in for the price tag on the 28 year old, squad rotation player.