Finally, there may be some kind of conclusion to the thorny debate of whether Lionel Messi would be any good on a wet, windy night in Stoke. Of course, the actual answer to this conundrum ‘erm, yes’ but there are still Flat-Earthers out there who are very much on the wrong side of the footballing equivalent of the Earth orbiting the Sun or vice versa.
Unfortunately, Messi is never going to leave Barcelona in a million years and will not set foot in Stoke unless the Potteries club has a spectacular run of form over the next couple seasons. However, one of the golden generation, a key teammate of Messi and a three times Champions League winner, five times La Liga winner and World Cup and European Championships winner might be heading to England. Pedro appears to be on the brink of signing for Manchester United.
Pedro Rodriguez Ledesma could be the key to understanding whether Pep Guardiola’s golden generation of 2009 to 2011 was greater than the sum of its parts or a once-in-a-lifetime collection of football geniuses who could excel in any league at any time.
Although Luis Enrique would very much like Pedro to stay at the Camp Nou, a dwindling lack of playing opportunities for a player who has just turned 28 sees the forward looking for pastures new. Last season in La Liga, Pedro only made 15 starts and 20 substitute appearances, managing just six goals in the process. With Luis Suarez set to start the new campaign from the beginning, as opposed to a third of the way through, the chances of Pedro claiming a place ahead of the Uruguayan, Messi and Neymar are looking even thinner.
By abandoning the club where he first made his debut as a substitute in 2008, Pedro becomes the only one of the true tiki-taka core to leave the comfortable climes of Catalonia. Dani Alves looks likely to see out his career with Barcelona, the same scenario as Andrés Iniesta and Sergi Busquets. We’re overlooking Xavi’s Qatari jaunt.
This leaves Pedro as the Barcelona test case. In theory, everything points to him becoming an enormous success in the Premier League. He can multitask like anyone’s business across the front three, is technically proficient and knows where the goal is. Pedro will also look to the success other La Liga forward talents have had in the Premier League such as David Silva, Kun Aguero, Juan Mata and former teammate, Alexis Sánchez. This time we’ll overlook Roberto Soldado.
Manchester United will also offer a squad of players on the same wavelength as Pedro, although perhaps with less tendency to pass in endless triangles until a gap opens, the tactics he knows best for both Barcelona and Spain.
The move from Barcelona will be a psychological wrench for a player who has only known life at the Camp Nou, but the new Galactico model at Barcelona sees him surplus to requirements for more sexier replacements. Pedro will have a point to prove. He should be to enjoy a second wind outside of La Liga, and have a barnstormer at the Britannia to boot.