Over the course of Chelsea’s history, we have witnessed various talented Spanish footballers, such as the left footed genius Juan Mata, the nit and gritty, Cesar Azpilicueta and the brilliant facilitator, Cesc Fabregas. But there is one that has gone under the radar for several reasons, and that is Pedro Rodriguez. We as fans has sometimes forgotten Pedro’s influence on the pitch and what he brings to the table. His work rate defensively is one of the reasons Chelsea were so effective under Antonio Conte and during their title winning 2016/17 season. Fans can also appreciate what he has done for the club over the last few years in helping Chelsea win various titles. His prime Barça days are sometimes something fans have hoped Pedro to be, and his last few of years at the club are highlighted due to the fact that his performance has severely weakened. What made Chelsea sign Pedro in the first place was indeed the quality that he prominently shown in the big stage when he was flanking alongside Lionel Messi and David Villa. Pedro’s consistency has dropped and he no longer possesses the fountain of youth he once had, and this can be validated with several poor performances this season and seasons prior. His deterioration in form started to come into effect once he turned the big three-O, and T started to show signs of decline. What has kept Pedro’s team is his occasional moments of magic that reminds us of his quality. His elite finishing and ability to use both feet can be beneficial to team.
Pedro’s stats in previous years:
Pedro arrived to London in a £19 million deal in the summer of 2015 on a four-year contract that could reach £21.4 million depending on performances. His debut for the Blues came three days later after his signing in a league away match against West Bromwich Albion, and it was quite memorable. He opened up the scoring and provided an assist for the second goal in which later resulted in 3-2 victory for Chelsea. He would go on to score 9 goals and 3 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions that campaign. Pedro would later go on to have a much more impactful season and helped Chelsea win their 5th Premier League title, despite notching a similar stat line from the previous year. He finished with 9 goals, same as last year, but tripled his assist tally ending the season with 10 assists. His work rate was in full show as he demonstrated to Antonio Conte why he needed to be in the lineup week in and week out. His impressive resurgence and consistency helped Chelsea be a force to be reckoned with, especially on the defensive end. Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation took the league by storm with the Blues going on a 13 game winning streak, and Pedro won several individual honors, such as the 2016 November and 2017 March Premier League Goal of the Month.
Pedro scored pivotal and memorable goals that season, such as the opening goal against Manchester United, when Chelsea gave Mourinho a sour 4-0 defeat in his return to the bridge as United manager. Another unforgettable goal was the equalizing bullet against Tottenham Hotspur, where he quickly turned to his right and curled a beauty of a shot to the far post. He also made fans appreciate him as he was sometimes deployed as wingback due to his effectiveness defensively. Pedro finished the 2016/17 season with a 75% tackle success rate and with 21 interceptions. His overall attacking game was strong with an 83% accurate pass rate and an impressible 69% dribble success rate. The following year he took a step back performance wise, finishing the season with 7 goals, 5 assists as he started to falter in some games. His dribbling success rate decreased and so did his decision making. We saw games where he often made the wrong pass or wrong play that inevitably sometimes cost Chelsea in the match.
His last two years have been up and down, once again reminding us of the decline in efficiency as one ages. The last campaign under Maurizio Sarri, Pedro had a rejuvenation in form and justified the reason why Chelsea bought him from Barcelona. Pedro increased his pass accuracy rate to an outstanding 86% as well as his dribbling rate to 75% higher than all his previous seasons at the club. Pedro had a substantial amount of touches in the final third, which was also due to the changed system, having 714 touches in the attacking 3rd to 442 touches the previous season (Fbref.com). He finished in remarkable fashion with 13 goals and 5 assists in 52 appearances in all competitions including a goal and assisting Giroud into getting the penalty for the third goal in the 2018/19 Europa League final. The current 2019/20 campaign hasn’t been sweet to the veteran Spaniard who has only had 18 appearances in all competitions. Despite having his best season the previous year, Pedro has been rumored to several clubs this past window, as Chelsea is starting to look at young options in attacking areas. The current gaffer, Frank Lampard, hasn’t given the 32-year-old much playing time due to his unpredictability on the pitch. But as of now, what are his strengths and weaknesses?
Current Strengths & Weaknesses
One thing that hasn’t wavered from Pedro’s game is his work ethic and professionalism. He isn’t known for having an outside persona, and throughout the years he has earned the title of a true professional. Antonio Conte praised his work rate especially on the defensive end after showing the urge to track back. Under Conte’s system, Pedro admitted it was difficult to play, as he explained, “Last year we were more compact but we defended mostly in our own half. The team is better than last season. [Sarri] has good ideas to attack, to press, to play more between the lines similar to Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. This is very good.” Pedro cited in the Daily Mirror in 2018. The Spanish winger did indeed have a more fruitful year under Maurizio Sarri and showed his ambidexterity by scoring 4 goals with both his right and left foot. This is still one of his strong suits that he has no problems shooting with either foot, which makes him a skillful attacker. In the 2016/17 season, Pedro tallied 3 goals outside the box and 5 goals with his left foot, 3 more than his right. This made it tricky for defenders to mark him, as his finishing versatility bewildered opposition’s defenses. Since the 2017/18 season Pedro hasn’t been able to score from outside the box but still is in the top list as stated earlier. His tackle success rate has decreased since his title winning season dropping all the way to 47%. But even for an attacker, this is a pretty high percentage. Pedro’s diligence on the defensive end goes without question as impressive.
Another key strength Pedro possesses is his off the ball runs. His ability to make dangerous and diagonal runs behind opposition defenses makes him a model forward for younger attackers to look up to. His ability to pick out teammates hasn’t always been strong, but his passing accuracy has not fluctuated under 80% in his tenure at Chelsea. This past January in a FA Cup tie against Hull City, the veteran winger put another poor showing when he struggled in the first half displaying lack of sharpness on and off the ball. This was also due to lack of playing time, but in the second half he nearly cost Chelsea a goal as he lost the ball in their own half creating an opportunity for the home side. Chelsea overall played significantly worse in the second half but still managed to create chances, one of which fell on Pedro’s lap yet was ultimately missed. It wasn’t a pretty a showing for the Spaniard as he was once esteemed to play alongside the likes of Messi and Iniesta. His best performance this season was the last game played before the pandemic halted the leagues progress against Everton. He scored the second goal and assisted the first to Mason Mount. His stats vs Everton are as follow:
-Accurate passes: 32
-Pass success rate:78%
-Chances created: 3
-5 Accurate long balls
-2 key passes
– Duels won 6/10
-Dribbles succeeded 2/2
Credit: FotMob Football app.
This was Pedro’s best performance under Frank Lampard, but he has not been featured frequently as youth and others who were given the nod over him. Like Giroud, Pedro’s work ethic has never been questioned and his professionalism earned Lampard’s respect, who said back in January that Pedro was a part of his plans. Key weaknesses that are huge factors in why his minutes are plummeting are his decision making and inability to dribble past defenders. His dribble success rate is at its lowest since his Chelsea career started, currently possessing a 56% dribbling success rate.
The Spanish winger’s days at Chelsea could be numbered as various linked names are rumored to be moving to London. Pedro’s contributions will always be hailed once his Chelsea career is over, but we could agree that his current abilities aren’t what they used to be. If the season does continue, his attributes will be crucial if Chelsea is to have any top four aspirations, but a healthy Pulisic or Hudson-Oodi would likely force Pedro back to the bench. His position at the club will have to be assessed once again in the summer, as Chelsea look to revamp their offense for their future plans.
Sources: Fotmob football app, Transfermarkt.com, fctables.com, chelsea official website, Daily Mirror, goal.com, feelchelsea.com, fbref.com
Edited by: Dan