Chelsea forward Pedro Rodriguez recently played down rumours linking him away from Stamford Bridge, a vast contrast from how he would have been feeling this time last year.
The Spanish international has finally settled with the Blues under new manager Antonio Conte. But it was a different story in his debut campaign.
Surprise move to Chelsea couldn’t have started worse
Pedro’s move from childhood club Barcelona to Chelsea shocked most given how contrasting his skill-set seemed to be for his new side, let alone he looked destined to spend the rest of his career as a one-club man. The Spaniard was not only a product of the Catalan outfit’s academy, but a fan-favourite and well-liked in the dressing room. He was no longer commanding a starting place but would have been the first player off the bench for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Neymar.
He would have also been given a host of starts should injury or poor occur to the aforementioned, but he opted for a move and Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea were among the suitors. A flair player being managed by a pragmatic coach was never going to get the best from him, and so it proved in 2015/16 with Pedro scoring eight goals in 40 appearances in all competitions. Pedro reportedly told friends he regretted the move just months into his spell at Chelsea, but things look a lot different now.
From maligned under Mourinho, to a key component under Conte
“This is the best moment for me at this club and also the best moment for the whole team since I’ve been here. I’m very happy here. It’s a good situation when you are top of the League and progressing in the FA Cup. We are on the right path. Last year was a difficult one for me, for the club, for the team, but this year is different,” said Pedro on the recent transfer rumours. It’s clear he’s a changed man and he’s playing a completely different role which gets the best from him.
While an industrious player who will track back and do his defensive duties, it’s his running off the ball that is key to Chelsea’s playing style. Under Conte, they counter attack from deep and it means Pedro can stretch backlines and isolate himself with defenders. He’s already scored and created two more league goals than his tally from last season and is a key component in the side, no longer an impact substitute. With the help of Pedro, Chelsea are 1/6 to win the Premier League this season.
There was a toxic atmosphere at the club last season under former manager Jose Mourinho and Pedro struggled to adapt to England, causing him to be in and out of the team. He was often brought off in games which knocked his confidence. But Conte has trusted upon him and regards him as a regular first-teamer – leaving Willian on the bench as a result.
How good has the Spaniard been for the Blues?
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