Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea were most attractive option for me: Pedro

By Robert Jones

Spain forward Pedro feels a lack of playing time left him with no choice but to leave Barcelona and make the move to Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea.

Less than 24 hours after making his Blues debut following a £21.1m transfer and helping Chelsea to their first win of the season by scoring at West Brom, Pedro returned to his former club to hold one final, farewell press conference.

"I leave this club with my head held high," said Pedro. "I take with me all the memories of being part of this marvellous club and of its history. There have been great times, I have scored in many finals. I take with me those times of euphoria and happiness.

"I don't think Barca will miss me because they have plenty of quality players, but I will sure miss them, the players and the club."

The 28-year-old joined Barca's youth system as a 17-year-old, and since making his first-team debut in the 2007-08 season has won 20 trophies with the club, including five league titles and three Champions Leagues crowns.

In 2009, Pedro became the first player to hit the back of the net in all six major club competitions in one season.

However, he decided to leave Barca after seeing his playing time reduced by the arrival of Luis Suarez last summer, making just 25 starts in all competitions in the 2014-15 campaign.

"Of course I would have liked to have stayed at Barca and retire here," Pedro said.

"That was my intention when I signed my contract extension,but I've taken a gamble because it's what I wanted.

"I wasn't going to stay here just to appear in the photo."

Two months ago, Pedro extended his contract with Barca until June 2019 after scoring 16 goals and setting up nine more in all competitions last season.

"I was really happy when I signed that contract," he said. "But then I saw that my situation would not change.

"This offer arrived and it gave me everything I needed to take a decision. I wanted to leave to have more playing time."

A member of Spain's World Cup-winning squad in South Africa in 2010, Pedro, who also won Euro 2012 with La Roja, revealed he had no shortage of offers from England.

"I'm always ambitious but it was difficult to have continuity here," he said. "Now I have new challenges and the opportunity to continue to play.

"I had offers from other English clubs - Manchester United, City and Chelsea, who were the club that more rapidly resolved my transfer and the one that showed more interest in me.

"I'm very happy to be at Chelsea because it's a club that, like Barca, are fighting for titles. But I haven't gone to Chelsea just to work under (manager Jose) Mourinho, but also because London attracts me as a city and I have friends at Chelsea. Moreover, English football is exciting and very attractive.

"I've had an incredible reception at Chelsea. John Terry is an exemplary captain, who has treated me very well since I arrived.

"I just hope I don't have to face Barca or step out at the Nou Camp wearing another jersey. It would be difficult, I wouldn't like it."

Meanwhile, Callum McManaman has called for patience after West Brom's winless start to the season, believing they are on the cusp of breaking their duck.

The Baggies winger thinks they can kick-start their season soon following a second defeat of the campaign.

Albion lost 3-2 to 10-man Chelsea on Sunday and have also suffered defeat to Manchester City and drew 0-0 at Watford.

They host Port Vale in the Capital One Cup second round tonight and McManaman expects a Baggies revival.

"I think once we find our first win, we will go on a run and win a few games," he said.

"We showed (against Chelsea) that we can compete with the better teams in this league and that gives us plenty of confidence.

"The new players have come in and settled really well which is obviously great for us."

Belfast Telegraph


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