Barcelona coach wants quick end to Pedro saga

From left: Barcelona attackers Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez arguing with Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, who tried to hide the ball to run the clock down after Barca pulled a goal back.
From left: Barcelona attackers Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez arguing with Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, who tried to hide the ball to run the clock down after Barca pulled a goal back.PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is longing for the transfer window to close at the end of the month to end the uncertainty over the future of Spain forward Pedro Rodriguez.

Media reports suggested the 28-year-old has had his heart set on a move to English football, with champions Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City keen to secure his services.

Although Pedro - who has a £22 million (S$48 million) release clause - started Monday's Spanish Super Cup second leg against Athletic Bilbao in the absence of Brazilian forward Neymar, who was ill with mumps, Enrique is expected to give the Spaniard limited playing time with Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez forming his preferred forward line.

"It's a difficult situation and it's hard (for Pedro) to stay focused," said Enrique after Barca fell 1-5 on aggregate to Bilbao.

"I want the damn market to close so that I know who I can count on."

British media reported yesterday that United chief executive Ed Woodward was in Barcelona to seal the deal but left without an agreement in place.

It is believed United are only willing to pay £18 million up front and the remaining £4 million in performance-based instalments.

The transfer saga is affecting Pedro's performance on the pitch. He fluffed his lines as Barcelona tried to claw back Bilbao's 4-0 first-leg advantage, kicking thin air when he had time and space to finish, and gave the ball away in a dangerous area, almost presenting the opposition a goal.

Barca's aggregate defeat by Bilbao ended their hopes of a clean sweep of all six trophies they are contesting in 2015. They have won four titles this year - the Champions League, La Liga, the King's Cup and the European Super Cup - and will play at the Club World Cup in December.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline 'Barcelona coach wants quick end to Pedro saga'. Print Edition | Subscribe