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Pedro vs Alexis Sanchez: Manchester United transfer target can shine just like Arsenal forward and old Barcelona pal

The last team to take an unsettled winger from the fringes of the Barcelona team and put him in their starting XI each week finished up with a 20 goals a season forward who won the club’s player of the year.

If Pedro makes the same impact at Manchester United, as Alexis Sanchez did at Arsenal, there will be no complaints at Old Trafford; but is he the same type of player and is he likely to have the same sort of debut campaign?

The statistics suggest it is like-for-like. When Sanchez joined Barcelona in the 2011-12 season he scored 11 goals in 20 starts, Pedro managed five in 20 starts.

 

The 28-year-old is set to follow in the footsteps of his former Barcelona team-mate Alexis Sanchez (left)
The Spain international (with the Champions League trophy in June) is off to Manchester United
The Spain international (with the Champions League trophy in June) is off to Manchester United

In their second season together Sanchez scored eight in 18 starts and Pedro seven in 23. And in the 2013-14 campaign Sanchez scored 19 in 27 games started and Pedro got 15 in 28 starts. Sanchez’ goals-a-game record was better but factor in Pedro’s higher assists figures and there is little to choose between them.

Sanchez is a right-footed player who favours starting from a wide left position; Pedro is as two-footed as any player in world football at the moment and happy on either wing.

Advantage Pedro then, although Sanchez can play through the middle – he’s bulkier, physically more imposing, and has played as a centre forward for both Chile and Barca.

Pedro could play as a false nine at a stretch and Vicente Del Bosque also considered using him as a full back at the last World Cup, but it’s not an option Luis Enrique took to seriously last season despite Barca’s need for an alternative to Dani Alves.

 

Sanchez and Pedro - pictured in January 2014 - were close friends while at the Nou Camp together
Sanchez and Pedro – pictured in January 2014 – were close friends while at the Nou Camp together

He is defensively clever though and his pressing – as recently pointed out by his former team-mate Thierry Henry – is second to none. Sanchez has the energy but Pedro is perhaps the more willing of the two to track back.

What Sanchez had when he arrived that Pedro doesn’t was experience outside of Barcelona. Arsene Wenger never had to ask the question: ‘But can he do it away from the Nou Camp?’ because Sanchez had already proved himself in Serie A with Udinese.

Pedro joined the Barca C team a decade ago from the Canary Islands club San Isidro and has been there ever since. Many a bright Barcelona player has struggled away from the club although in his favour Pedro has a former Barcelona coach in Louis Van Gaal waiting for him at Old Trafford. He has also thrived in a Spain team that doesn’t always adhere strictly to the Barca blueprint.

In terms of personality there are also similarities. Sanchez kept a low profile in a Barcelona dressing room dominated by the big personalities of Dani Alves and Gerard Pique, the experience of Xavi and the mere presence of Lionel Messi.

Sanchez (scoring for Arsenal against Swansea in May) his been a huge hit since his transfer last summer
Sanchez (scoring for Arsenal against Swansea in May) his been a huge hit since his transfer last summer
The Chilean - pictured celebrating away against Hull last season) is already a firm favourite in England
The Chilean – pictured celebrating away against Hull last season) is already a firm favourite in England
The Hull City crowd actually applauded Sanchez after he bent this wicked free-kick over the wall on May 4
The Hull City crowd actually applauded Sanchez after he bent this wicked free-kick over the wall on May 4
Pedro (right, mocked up in a United short) can make the same impression as Sanchez
Pedro (right, mocked up in a United short) can make the same impression as Sanchez
Pedro (right, mocked up in a United short) can make the same impression as Sanchez
Pedro (right, mocked up in a United short) can make the same impression as Sanchez
Pedro scored a late winner in Barcelona's epic 5-4 Super Cup triumph over Sevilla on Tuesday
Pedro scored a late winner in Barcelona’s epic 5-4 Super Cup triumph over Sevilla on Tuesday

Pedro also shies away from the limelight. The story about him not speaking up about hating the No 2 shirt given to him by Vicente del Bosque in the 2010 World Cup finals (it was only changed to 18 when Fernando Torres intervened on his behalf) sums up a mild-mannered accepting attitude to whatever life brings his way.

For all his brilliance at Arsenal it seems unlikely that Sanchez will develop into a real leader at the Emirates and Pedro certainly wont walk collar-up Cantona-style into Old Trafford.

Yet both men are of huge value because they deliver when it matters.

Pedro is perhaps even more efficient than Sanchez who had a habit of snatching at chances in his early days at Barcelona.

Pedro, or Pedrito as he was known when he first broke through, has always been able to produce on the big occasion. His record in finals is stunning – scoring in two European Super Cup finals, one Spanish Cup final, one Champions League final, one World Club Cup final, and two Spanish Super Cup finals.

The raw materials are there for Pedro to have the same impact as Sanchez. One thing that perhaps will not count in his favour is that Sanchez joined an established team while he moves to a side that is still overwhelmed by ins, outs and possible late moves and is not quite sure what system it should be using.

Pedro has pedigree, this goal in the 2011 Champions League final against United a number of important ones
Pedro has pedigree, this goal in the 2011 Champions League final against United a number of important ones
Sanchez, Pedro and Jordi Alba celebrate after the former scored against Athletic Bilbao in April 2013
Sanchez, Pedro and Jordi Alba celebrate after the former scored against Athletic Bilbao in April 2013

Van Gaal is likely to be less tactically indecisive this season but there is still a sense that within his big black folder he takes to the dug-out, the players are still not quite sure what page he is currently on. Pedro will start on the left of a front three if he signs but who is to say where he will end up.

Buying from Barcelona has served Premier League clubs well in recent years. Yaya Toure has helped Manchester City to two Premier League titles and Cesc Fabregas was hugely influential in Chelsea taking the crown.

Manchester United will settle for Pedro lighting up Old Trafford the way Sanchez did the Emirates last season. He will come with the same willingness to accept new responsibility and the same desire to leave the shadow of Messi and shine in the Premier League.

Pedro vs Alexis Sanchez: Manchester United transfer target can shine just like Arsenal forward and old Barcelona pal

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