‘Winner’, ‘Champion’, ‘Number one’, different words but all can be used to describe one man – Pedro Rodriguez.
During his 5-year spell with the blues, Pedro has become a fan favourite who has won almost ever trophy possible, and contributed to many big moments including his two goals in Baku last year when we beat Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa league final.
Pedro signed for Chelsea in 2015 costing a fee of £21 million. It had initially looked like the Spaniard was on his way to Old Trafford before the blues swept in and the rest is history. He joined with a massive pedigree coming from Barcelona where not only had he been part of Pep Guardiola’s football revolution, but was also a disciple of their famous ‘La Masia’ academy. His Chelsea career began with a 3-2 away win against West Brom, in which he scored one and assisted another to claim man of the match. At the time this was exactly what the fans needed considering our poor form at the beginning of the season, especially after winning the league the season before. Pedro would go on to make a total of 40 appearances in all competitions that season scoring eight goals. Now, considering that this was during our infamous tenth place finish, where barely any positives came out Pedro’s contributions to the team were a dim light of hope of what he can bring to the team.
This dim light of hope soon grew into a bright spark of happiness in the 2016/2017 where Chelsea would win the premier league and Pedro again contributed in key moments to help this. Who can forget his absolute scorcher against Everton at Goodison Park in a very tight game which effectively helped us win the league that season as we ran out 3-0 winners. Even if you look before this, you’ll see games like the 4-0 win against Manchester United where he scored after 30 seconds, a win which was part of our club record 13 game winning streak. Conte’s switch to 3-4-3 had transformed Pedro from a winger to an inside forward and he was repaying the mangers faith having his best goal scoring season for Chelsea scoring 13 goals in all competitions as well as contributing eleven assists. Although we would go on to lose the final, in the FA Cup, Pedro would score four goals in five games again just showing the form he was in that year.
If the first season was his settling period and the second his breakthrough the third, fourth and fifth seasons can all be viewed as safe and moderate. He didn’t light up the league, but his hard work and tenacity was undeniable. Chelsea as a club would go on to win a FA Cup in 2018 and Europa league in 2019 with Pedro adding to his already impressive medal haul. In the league we would have finishes of fifth, fourth and fourth securing champions league football twice including this season. Pedro would make 47 appearance in 17/18, 51 appearances in 18/19 and 21 appearances in 19/20. With Franks’ change of direction with youth this year it’s no surprise Pedro has chosen to leave following the end of his contract. Although he leaves with everyone’s blessing and has also shown what a great man he is with the signing of a contract extension to cover the period of football effected by COVID-19, when he had already agreed to move to A.S. Roma in the summer.
Looking back now, I think it’s definitely safe to say that peak Pedro at Chelsea came during the 2016/2017 season even if he did match his goal tally in 2018/2019. His experience and professionalism were unquestionable and something needed during his years at the club, especially in recent times with Frank Lampard bringing through the youth as this is a player who has been there, done that.
He was the man for the big moments and can leave Chelsea as a record breaker, becoming the first player in world football to win every European trophy possible. All in all, Pedro will have left a small mark in Chelsea history, but, a mark none the less and will always be appreciated by fans for his hard work – in the words of the Stamford bridge faithful ‘Oh Pedro Rodriguez…’