How good it must have felt for Pedro Rodriguez to utter the words, “I am very excited to start my adventure at Chelsea and I am here to keep winning titles,” at his very first press conference upon completing a $34-million transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea.
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Not only does the move see the 28-year-old trade one of the world’s biggest clubs for yet another of the world’s biggest clubs, but does so with a number of his best years still ahead of him and the chance to write his own story once out from under the shadows of the undisputed best player in the world, Lionel Messi, and his pair of superstar sidekicks, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
As stated already, Barcelona is one of — if not the — biggest football club in the world. Their flock of “fans” all around the world is immeasurable, but to the vast majority of them — which is to say, those that live beyond the borders of Catalonia and the rest of Spain, essentially — Pedro is an afterthought.
That pains me to say, because he’s undeniably brilliant as a player — 99 goals (and countless assists along the way) in 321 appearances for the club that gave him his schooling as a youth and his big chance as a professional. But, again, the likes of Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry come to mind well before Pedro when recalling the star-studded cast to wear blaugrana of Barca over the last decade.
Now Pedro moves to the Premier League, the most popular and visible sporting league on the planet, where he’ll not only be out from those daunting shadows at the Camp Nou, but playing week in and week out with the widest-reaching and most vociferous of medias in the world — which is to say, the English-speaking — watching, critiquing and/or praising his every move.
For better or for worse — and it’s undoubtedly better for him, because the entirety of the burden now rests on his shoulders — the world is about to find out just how good Pedro Rodriguez is. He’ll always have those seven glorious, title-filled seasons (five La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey triumphs and three UEFA Champions League winner’s medals) at Barca to remember fondly, but now is his star’s chance to shine.
As a performer — one of the highest quality — what more could he possibly ask for?