Now that Angel di Maria has confirmed his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, attention has turned to who might replace him at Manchester United. One name that has been constantly cropping up is Barcelona’s Pedro.
The 28-year-old World Cup winner is said to be unhappy with a lack of playing time at Barcelona, and Man United boss Louis van Gaal is apparently ready to offer the player an escape in a move that would see him become the Dutchman’s sixth major summer signing.
We spoke to beIN Sports anchor and Manchester United fan Jeremy St. Louis for his views on Pedro, and what he could bring to United should a transfer materialise.
Hi Jeremy, thanks for sitting down for an interview, could you please introduce yourself?
I’m a sports/football journalist who has spent the past three years covering/reporting on the ‘big 5’ European leagues on beIN Sports here in the United States. I host a panel discussion show on the channel called ‘The Locker Room’ every Monday night and it features the likes of Christian Vieri, Ruud Gullit, Gary Bailey (former United goalkeeper) and Ray Hudson – along with other football personalities who happen to pop by. I have covered World Cups, Champions League Finals, Clasicos, FA Cup Finals, MLS Cup Playoffs and done feature interviews with past & present players.
After a good 2013/14 season with Barcelona, Pedro has fallen down the pecking order at the Camp Nou. Why do you think this is?
Well, when you have a team with the likes of [Lionel] Messi, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar, getting games will be tough – and not just for Pedro. Unfortunately for him, despite spending the bulk of his career in the Barca system, bigger names from elsewhere have usurped his chance to make a name for himself in the first-team. It is unfortunate actually because I think given the chance, he could be a solid contributor on and off the pitch. He certainly has been when given the chance to play and the fans love him because he is someone they know they can rely on, a safe pair of hands (or boots) if you will.
Louis van Gaal has frequently spoken about the need for a ‘game changing’ player in the mould of an Eden Hazard or a Gareth Bale – can Pedro be our game changer?
I definitely think he can be. At 28-years-old, some might look at him and go ‘he’s getting old’ but given the situation he’s been in at Barca, he’s also got something to prove – and van Gaal loves players who have that chip on their shoulder. He’ll come in following the flop of Angel Di Maria and given the disappointment the Argentine was, even a mediocre season could be enough to make more of an impact. Could he be a ‘game changer’? Most definitely.
From what you know of Pedro, what do you feel are his strongest assets as a player?
For me, it’s his passing. He is a typical Barcelona player in that way – he likes the short passes and his vision on the field sees him make key passes at key moments. A trait that helps with that is his ability to hold up the play, which he can do. I’d like to see him take more chances in terms of his shooting opportunities, but van Gaal may help him with that. For me, he has shown himself to be a smart player with a level head in pressure moments and that’s exactly what you want as a manager of a big club.
Would Pedro be your first choice signing for United from the wingers out there? Some fans have wanted bigger names such as Marco Reus or Antoine Giezmann to be brought in.
It’s hard to say when you are in the ‘silly season’ of the summer window. Are there better choices out there like a Reus or Griezmann – sure. Will they come to United? I doubt it or they’d already be there. Van Gaal is a smart manager and while he may also be a little stubborn at times, he has shown last year and this summer that he has a plan for this team and if you aren’t part of it or he senses you don’t want to be part of it, out you go. If he thinks Pedro is a guy that can do the job Di Maria could not (or will not), I trust his judgment.
Are United signing Pedro based on former glories, or is he still good enough to be a starter?
Not only is he good enough to be a starter for United, he’s good enough to be a STAR at United. Lets not forget, Pedro is coming from a team that won three trophies last season and he has played there for most of his career. He understands what it means to win, how to be a strong contributor and make those around him succeed. I think this is what makes him attractive to van Gaal the most – on top of his ability to produce, he is a ‘team’ player.
Will Pedro be a good replacement for Angel di Maria?
I never like to use the word ‘replace’ when it comes to new players coming in or taking over for departed players. Lets remember, Antonio Valencia was the one brought in after Cristiano Ronaldo. Was he considered Ronaldo’s replacement? I’m sure he was by some. Di Maria – while extraordinarily talented – just never got his footing in the Premier League. Things didn’t get off to a good start when his home was broken into and that just seemed to have a domino effect on his time at Old Trafford. When things aren’t good at home, they won’t be good at work and it was no secret his family wanted to leave Manchester before the winter had settled in. I don’t think Pedro can replace Di Maria – but he can provide more production from the position than Di Maria did.