Leaving Barcelona is usually going to be a step down in both quality of football and success, and Pedro Rodriguez has learnt that the hard way this season.
After leaving the club where he won 20 trophies and became the only player in history to score in six different competitions in the same campaign, the 28-year-old opted to sign for Chelsea in order to play regular football and not merely be an impact substitution. The form of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar saw him pushed to the periphery under Luis Enrique, and it is has not worked out the way Pedro would have hoped in London.
Chelsea’s pitiful attempt at regaining their Premier League title, with a 10th placed finish, and the unceremonious ending to Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the club was not the ideal environment for the man from Tenerife to adapt to life in England. Eight goals and two assists is not a bad return but more was expected, but despite distinctly average performances he has managed to regain his place in Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Euro 2016.
It is worth mentioning that Pedro’s ability to score vital goals in big games for Barcelona does not necessarily mean that he is a prolific goal-scorer – for example, in his last three seasons with the Catalans, he only managed to score seven, two and six goals in La Liga, which shows that his game is not solely based on goals and therefore, it would be harsh to judge him on just that.
The Spain Coach is known to pick tried and tested players at tournaments, with a few exceptions, which explains why Pedro made the squad ahead of somebody like Saul Niguez, who is one of the hottest midfield prospects in Europe right now.
The winger made his debut for La Roja before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and earned the trust of Del Bosque with various appearances off the bench during the competition, before going on to start both the semi-final and final. Since then, though, the San Isidro youth-teamer has generally been used as a substitute in tournaments – with his pace and directness he is definitely a useful tool to have when chasing a goal.
The thing that Pedro seems to have going for him is the apparent lack of traditional wingers in the Spain squad – only Nolito and Lucas Vasquez play a similar sort of role, which means that a touch of pace is needed towards the end of games when teams start to tire against the patient passing game employed by Del Bosque. What’s more, the winger’s familiarity with the system means that he is a safe option, even if there are players in better form or more worthy of a place in the squad.
Some would argue that Pedro does not deserve his place in the group of Spanish players set to play in France, and it’s true, he has not been at his best, but perhaps he could rediscover his ability to score at crucial moments this summer.