Revealed: How Chelsea pulled off dramatic hijack of Pedro and left Man United red-faced
Published 19/08/2015 | 17:30
Chelsea's dramatic Pedro heist that has left rivals Manchester United red-faced was masterminded by manager Jose Mourinho, director Marina Granovskaia, Cesc Fabregas and the midfielder’s girlfriend Daniella Semaan.
Pedro is poised to complete a £22million move to Chelsea after flying to London on Wednesday to complete a medical, just two days after United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had travelled to Barcelona to try to close a deal for the forward.
But while Woodward was haggling with Barcelona, Chelsea were putting ‘Operation Pedro’ into practice with Granovskaia conducting discreet negotiations with the Spanish club and, with the permission of Barca, Mourinho and Fabregas both speaking with the forward directly.
With Mourinho and Fabregas working on Pedro, Semaan made contact with the Spaniard’s wife, Carolina Martin, about moving to London.
Fabregas is good friends with Pedro from their time together at Barcelona and the Spanish national team, while Semaan also knows Martin well.
Between them, Mourinho, Granovskaia, Fabregas and Semaan managed to clinch a deal with Barca and convince Pedro to forget about United and agree to move to Stamford Bridge.
By the time Woodward and United denied there had been problems over the fee and claimed that the club had ended their interest in Pedro because of doubts from manager Louis van Gaal, the 28-year-old was already on a flight to London to undergo his Blues medical.
Spanish sources also claim that United’s bid ran into trouble because of Van Gaal’s fall-out with Pedro’s former Barca team-mate Victor Valdes, who has been frozen out at Old Trafford.
Hristo Stoichkov urged Pedro not to joined United and play for his former Barca manager Van Gaal, claiming the Dutchman was “mediocre” and somebody who “destroys clubs”.
Mourinho is likely to have got a far better recommendation, as, intriguingly, Stoichkov visited Chelsea’s Cobham training ground last week and spoke at length with the Portuguese and Fabregas.
The hijacking of Pedro has echoes of Chelsea’s late move to sign Willian from under the noses of Tottenham Hotspur two years ago in what was a significant blow to then manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Mourinho’s main motivation in signing Pedro is clearly to improve his team and squad, but he will take great delight in putting one over United off the pitch after Chelsea’s slow start to the season on it.
United insist they are already pursuing new targets, but the failure to capture Pedro after the departure of Angel di Maria piles the pressure on Woodward who has previously failed to close deals for Fabregas, Thiago Alcantra and Gareth Bale, and was this summer led up the garden path by Sergio Ramos, who signed a new contract at Real Madrid.
Manchester City had also made enquiries over Pedro in case a bid for Kevin de Bruyne falls through, but the Eastlands club remain hopeful of clinching a deal for the former Chelsea midfielder before the transfer window shuts.
Mourinho had hinted that he was frustrated by Chelsea’s lack of transfer activity, but owner Roman Abramovich has responded to the City defeat by committing to spend up to £44m on Pedro and left-back Baba Rahman, while also having a £30m bid for central defender John Stones rejected.
Chelsea could yet land Stones for almost £40m before the transfer window shuts, but, even if Everton stand firm, there can be no doubt that Mourinho has been backed.
While there was an obvious space in which to bring in Rahman to replace Filipe Luis, Chelsea have signed Pedro without finding a definite buyer for either Juan Cuadrado or Victor Moses.
Juventus are interested in Cuadrado, who will be allowed to leave either permanently or on loan, while Moses is on Tottenham’s list of targets but is not currently a priority for the White Hart Lane club.
Ironically, Mourinho could have signed Pedro in January but instead went for Cuadrado, who has not made any sort of impact at Chelsea since his £23.3m arrival from Fiorentina.
Creating serious competition on the right side of attack has been a problem for Mourinho, with Andre Schurrle, Mohamed Salah and Cuadrado all falling out of favour.
There is confidence that somebody with the experience of Pedro, who has won every honour in the domestic and international game, will cope far better with the competition for places at Stamford Bridge.
Pedro is likely to start on the right, with Willian and Oscar competing for the central position behind striker Diego Costa, and Eden Hazard staying on the left.
The Spain international’s pace should provide a new creative element to Chelsea’s game, while Pedro’s goalscoring record is also good for somebody who operates off the flank.
Pedro has twice scored more than 20 goals in all competitions for Barca, while he also netted 19 times in 2013/14.
Chelsea are waiting to see whether or not Stones agitates to leave Everton before making a fourth bid. The Toffees continue to insist the 21-year-old is not for sale.
The arrival of Pedro will certainly lift the mood around Chelsea, following a tough week in which Mourinho was forced to answer questions over his demotion of club doctor Eva Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn and the team were beaten by City.
Carneiro was this week due to return to Cobham, but Chelsea are refusing to comment on the matter and she has not been seen by the club’s first-team players.