Barcelona have big decision to make with Pedro
Interest in acquiring the services of Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez will not go away, and it is likely he will have a huge decision to make this summer about where he wants to play football next season.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are the latest sides at the front of the queue, according to English newspaper the Daily Express on Tuesday, and it would not be a huge surprise to see the little winger in a different shirt come August.
After emerging from La Masia youth system to make his debut in January 2008, Pedro has lifted every trophy there is to win in the game. It would therefore be a huge shame if the Tenerife-born player, who made his 300th league appearance for the first team on Sunday, is forced out of the club he joined as a 17-year-old and away from the Spanish league. With the latest TV deal giving the Premier League a further boost to already high TV revenues, it appears that more players will be following in the steps of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, to name just two players considered surplus to Barca requirements, and create an exodus of talent from Spain to England.
However, there is the hope that Pedro may decide that life away from the only professional club he has known is not for him, and there remains an option to reinvent himself that may just save his Barca career.
With the right-back position at Barca shrouded in doubt due to Dani Alves' contractual situation and Martin Montoya and summer signing Douglas failing to convince coach Luis Enrique, Pedro has the chance to convert to a more defensive position and use his natural pace and running to give Enrique more options.
While Pedro mentioned earlier this month that fullback is not his natural position, he did admit to having trained there with the national team.
"If the boss wants to turn me into that position, I'd be happy," he said. "I give more a bit further forward, but anything that allows me to play more is always welcome."
Enrique has already shown his confidence in Pedro at the position in a big game -- against Paris Saint-Germain in the 3-1 Champions League win at home when he employed three centre halves and two speedy wing backs -- and if there is one quality Enrique must see in the player, it is his versatility as well as his speed and eye for goal.
In the seven years since his first appearance, Pedro has scooped two Champions Leagues, two Spanish Cups and four Spanish leagues with Barca and a World Cup with Spain in 2010, when he started the final against the Netherlands for only his eighth international cap. But with his contract running out in June 2016, either he or the club could yet decide it is best to move on this summer.
With Barca relying more than ever on an attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and summer signing Luis Suarez, Pedro has been restricted to just 11 starts out of a possible 23 in La Liga this season. But he has still managed to chip in five goals and would be a big miss if he left Camp Nou.
He has never let the side down when called upon. Again on Sunday, against Levante, in only his second start of the year, he showed he is the perfect attacking replacement, but the bit part he is being forced to play may not be enough to keep him at the club.
Until now, Pedro has proved both on and off the pitch that he just wants to concentrate on winning more trophies with Barca for the time being.
"I don't know what might happen in the future. For now I am happy at the club, but you never know what may happen," he told the press over the weekend. "I am calm about it and am concentrating on the club I am at until the end of the season."
But until the summer is over, the doubt will remain that this could be the final season we see Pedro in a Barca shirt.
Dermot lives in Spain, where he freelances for several publications, including AFP and the Press Association. Follow him on Twitter @dermotled.