Thursday 26 April 2018

Van Gaal aims to tempt Pedro with role in three-pronged attack

Pedro: United target
Pedro: United target

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal has offered Pedro Rodriguez a role alongside Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay in a new-look front three at Manchester United in a bid to convince the Barcelona forward to complete a £22m move to Old Trafford.

Spain international Pedro, who has a £22m escape clause in his contract, has been urged to stay by Barca manager Luis Enrique.

But the 28-year-old is determined to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at Barcelona to secure regular football elsewhere, and could make his farewell appearance for the European champions against Roma - who yesterday agreed a £14m fee with Manchester City for Edin Dzeko - in the Gamper Trophy season curtain-raiser at the Nou Camp tonight before finalising a transfer to United.

Pedro has told friends he is keen to move to Old Trafford and it is understood that Van Gaal has made it clear to the Canary Islander that he would form part of an attacking three with Rooney and summer signing Depay after choosing to adopt a 4-3-3 formation this season.

After tinkering with a variety of formations last season, Van Gaal believes the three-pronged attack - last used by United when Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez helped secure a Premier League-Champions League double in 2008 - offers the flexibility and fluidity required to challenge in the league and in Europe.

Having sold Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce this summer after rejecting the chance to sign Radamel Falcao on permanently, Van Gaal believes that Rooney can score over 20 goals this season as the spearhead of United's attack.

And the Dutchman is convinced that Pedro, who has scored 98 goals in 318 games for Barcelona, can provide the goal threat and pace on the right side of the three to complete his attacking option at Old Trafford.

An official bid for Pedro is expected to be lodged by United once Angel di Maria's £44.3m transfer to Paris St-Germain is completed within 24 hours.

Di Maria, a £59.7m buy from Real Madrid last August, is set to undergo a medical in Qatar before flying to the French capital to rubber-stamp his move.

Meanwhile, United have discovered the full cost of missing out on Champions League football last season by falling to 20th position in Uefa's latest club coefficient rankings - four places below neighbours Manchester City.

United will learn their opponents in this month's two-leg Champions League play-off when the draw is made on Friday morning, although they won't face Ajax, who were stunned 5-4 on aggregate after a 3-2 defeat against Rapid Vienna in Amsterdam last night.

City have been rewarded for four years of participation in the competition by climbing to 16th in the latest coefficient table.

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