Pedro is leaving Barcelona for Manchester United
The 28-year-old is close to leaving Barcelona for Manchester United, but showed just why he has been so special as he sealed the Uefa Super Cup in what is probably his last game
Pedro is signing off in style. The winger is still set to leave Barcelona in the coming days, but his parting gift has handed the Catalan club yet another trophy as the European champions beat Sevilla 5-4 in a thrilling Uefa Super Cup clash in Tbilisi on Tuesday.
The story ends just as it had begun. Pedro came to prominence back in 2009 when he emerged from the bench to score a 115th-minute winner in the Uefa Super Cup against Shakhtar Donetsk as Barca claimed all six trophies under Pep Guardiola in 2009.
This time, with 115 minutes on the clock once more, he pounced on a loose ball spilled by Beto following a Lionel Messi free-kick to blast home from close range and give his side the continental crown again as - just like in 2009 - they seek six titles in a calendar year.
Wild celebrations ensued on the pitch and on the sidelines as Barca's players and staff rejoiced in ectasy and relief too after they had seen a 4-1 lead thrown away, but Pedro's muted body language told another story.
Earlier on Tuesday, club secretary Robert Fernandez had told TV3 the forward had asked Barca for a transfer. But Pedro said after the game: "Those quotes are unfortunate. People like that shouldn't talk. He will have his reasons. Do I want to leave Barcelona? No. But it's complicated. It's not about money; it's about playing time."
What is surely his final intervention on the pitch in blaugrana sums up his career as a Barcelona player. So often he has popped up with important goals for the Catalan club, scoring in the 2011 Champions League semi-finals and final against Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively, twice in the 2012 Copa del Rey win over Athletic Club, a crucial late leveller in the final of the 2009 Club World Cup and also now in two Uefa Super Cups.
And it meant so much to the fans because here was a player who had featured for Barca B in Spain's third tier before making the step up with Guardiola to the first team. Originally known as Pedrito, Pep handed the winger a shirt one day with Pedro on the back. "Well," the Catalan coach said to his player. "You're all grown up now."
He was and he proved it in his first full season with the first team as he hit 23 goals in 52 appearances. And over the next few years, he became a first-choice forward in Barca's three-man attack. In 2013-14, however, he grew frustrated as he was often the man to miss out and following the arrival of Luis Suarez last year, he has been out of the side more often than in it.
Barca fans are sorry to see him leave. Not a Catalan but a symbol of La Masia nevertheless, Pedro is admired for his commitment and his ability to influence big games - just as he proved again on Tuesday. His prospective departure also means the club are losing another of their homegrown heroes (after Victor Valdes and Cesc Fabregas left last year and Xavi followed in the summer).
FULL STORY | Pedro: I don't want to leave Barca
With Neymar out due to a bout of the mumps, Pedro has been expected to start against Sevilla, but Luis Enrique said: "He had a problem with his adductor muscle and you all know about his current status ..."
The Asturian coach had been keen to hold on to the forward for longer (especially with Neymar out), but the transfer to Manchester United could be pushed through even before Barca play in the Spanish Supercopa against Athletic Club on Friday. Because even though he says he wants to stay, it remains hard to see how much Pedro will feature consistently with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez the undisputed first-choice forward line at the Catalan club.
On Tuesday, however, he gave the fans something else to remember him by and ensured that if Barca do go on to win the six trophies again like they did in 2009, he will have played a pivotal part in it once again.
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Barcelona 5-4 Sevilla