Pedro: Why I swapped Barcelona for Chelsea

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

Pedro: Why I swapped Barcelona for Chelsea

Less than 24 hours after making his Blues debut following a £21.1m (€28.6m) 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,” Pedro told the Spanish media. “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 on 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, Cesar Azpilicueta has warned Chelsea’s title rivals Pedro is ready to take the Premier League by storm. Winger Pedro scored on his debut as Jose Mourinho’s men kick-started their title defence with a 3-2 win at West Brom on Sunday while he also set up Diego Costa for Chelsea’s second.

Azpilicueta, who scored Chelsea’s third at The Hawthorns, believes there is even more to come from his Spain team-mate.

He said: “He has trained for one week, he played his first game, he is discovering the Premier League and I’m sure he will get better.

“I know him very well and he fits into the team very well. I know his ambition, he is hungry to help the team, win trophies and I know the way he started the first game is amazing.

“I know from the national team he is a top player. He played for Barcelona for so many years and he fits into our team and the Premier League.”

Pedro joined Baba Rahman at Stamford Bridge last week as Mourinho reacted to Chelsea’s sluggish start following a draw with Swansea and defeat at Manchester City.

Left-back Rahman signed from Augsburg and Azpilicueta welcomed the extra competition, having already seen off Ashley Cole and Filipe Luis in his time at Stamford Bridge.

“They are two good additions to the squad, it helps everybody to have competition,” said the 25-year-old defender.

Victory on Sunday was Chelsea’s first of the season, after Thibaut Courtois saved James Morrison’s penalty before the midfielder scored twice for the Baggies, and Azpilicueta admitted it was vital. “It was important to get the win. We had a few difficulties and we had to fight until the end,” he said.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox