Chelsea: Why Pedro is the Blues’ unsung hero
Playing under three different managers in the past three years, while many may steal the headlines, Pedro has almost remained a constant in West London.
A transfer window that was mainly focused on the uncertain futures of Eden Hazard, Willian and Thibaut Courtois, the announcement that Pedro had signed a new deal at Stamford Bridge had flown under the radar somewhat. Many could argue that almost sums up the Spaniard’s time in West London.
However, while he is now entering his third year in royal blue and has often divided opinion, he has now played under three different managers in a variety of positions from a false nine to a right wing back.
Starting the new season with just nine players remaining from their title-winning season two years ago — while the likes of Courtois, John Terry, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic have all left — Pedro has remained a constant at Cobham.
Described as a ‘top player’ and an important part of his new boss’ plans, although some of his more eye-catching teammates will steal the headlines, the 31-year-old still believes he has plenty to offer and is happy to carry on flying under the radar.
It’s probably fair to say that Pedro has epitomized Chelsea’s rollercoaster last three years. Swapping the Camp Nou for Stamford Bridge back in the summer of 2015, many at Chelsea thought their new £22 million man was going to hit the ground running after scoring in his debut against West Brom.
But, while he did show glimpses of the player that helped Lionel Messi and Co lift four La Liga titles and three Champions League medals, Jose Mourinho was soon gone after his second spell in SW6 was cut short.
Onto Antonio Conte and a new formation, the 2010 World Cup winner began to hit his stride. Scoring 13 goals and claiming 12 assists en route to Chelsea’s dominant title-winning year in 2016/17, Pedro was one of the Italian’s key men in a season that also saw them reach the FA Cup final.
With everyone at Chelsea unable to replicate their form in a poor season last year, Pedro eventually lost his place to Willian and many have since forgotten about his part in a record-breaking year for the Blues.
While others heads may have fallen and bids from abroad were coming in, Pedro opted to stay in West London and always promised to give 100% whenever required. Now working under the highly rated Serie A Coach of the Year, the 64-cap Spain international has enjoyed an impressive start to the new campaign.
His best is yet to come?
Adding another year to a contract that will see him stay until 2020, he found the net against both Perth Glory and Inter Milan in a pre-season tour that saw him receive plenty of praise from his new boss.
With Sarri’s Napoli side gaining a fearsome reputation for their high pressing and quick attacking style of football, Pedro once again ticks all the boxes.
He is a technical player. Very usable for me. And I think I’m really happy about the new contract. Pedro is a top player. It’s very important for us to keep the top players – Maurizio Sarri
A tireless winger with an eye for creativity in the final third, the former Barcelona man could be groomed for a similar role to the one Dries Mertens played in Sarri’s 4-3-3 last season. Previously a player who had been on the fringes of breaking through, the Belgian international was given more of a central role that saw him score 56 goals in two seasons.
Although Pedro is one to always put the team first, he would have been secretly happy about Conte’s replacement.
A model professional
With the likes of Pep Guardiola, Conte, Jose Mourinho and now Sarri portraying the winger as a model professional, several of Chelsea’s brightest starlets have also thanked him for his tutelage at Cobham, one of those being 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi.
A player who also received plenty of plaudits for his pre-season performances in Australia, many were calling for the youngster to get the nod in their Premier League opener.
Electing to go with the little Spaniard in the absence of Hazard, Saturday’s performance against Huddersfield epitomizes what it is Pedro brings to the team and why he has featured so frequently under three different managers in the past three years.
With their Belgian talisman settling for a place on the bench, Pedro took the role of the senior figure in their attacking trio and lead the charge when the tempo of the game dipped. Finishing it off with a sublime chip to round off another impressive afternoon, there is no doubt he will once again be key for Sarri in some way or another.
Most impressive — even at 31 and after winning 23 titles in two different countries — he still has a willingness to learn a new system and find a way he can best help Chelsea.
An industrious work ethic combined with a variety of technical attributes, Pedro has endeared himself to most and his role at Stamford Bridge should not be underestimated.
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