What a glorious day. What a lovely day. Even if you would've preferred a different big-name target, regardless of availability (like Reus, Griezmann, etc), nothing ratchets up the excitement more than a bit of gazumping. Especially when it's Manchester United. And especially when the details (from Duncan Castles's possibly well-placed sources) read like a hilarious trolling of United and their butt-of-all-jokes vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
An aggressive overnight intervention enabled Chelsea to usurp two Premier League title rivals in the pursuit of Spain forward Pedro. On Tuesday evening, Chelsea director Marina Granavoskaia presented Barcelona with a formal offer of €28million plus €2m in performance-related variables. The same night, Jose Mourinho contacted Pedro to assure him of his importance to the Chelsea manager's plans for the season.
Manchester United seemed to be comfortably in the lead after we dropped out earlier this summer. Apparently, there was interest from Manchester City as well, though nowhere near on the level of United, at least not in media reports leading up to last night. Castles does say that City DoF Txiki Begiristain was close behind Granovskaia with a verbal offer, but we were ready with the concrete terms.
The €28m+2m offer would seem to indicate that the €30m buyout didn't actually get triggered, and we simply paid a similar amount as a straight-up transfer fee with a small add-on bonus. Incidentally, according to Castles, Manchester United were trying to do something similar, except they were hoping to save a few million.
Though Ed Woodward spent part of Tuesday attempting to formalize the schedule of payments on a deal that would commit United to a guaranteed fee of €26m, going as far as presenting an official offer to Barca, Chelsea's intervention reshaped the playing field.
With the spare change Roman Abramoivch found in his couch cushions yesterday, we beat out United for Pedro's transfer. I've been laughing at this for the last hour at least.
Woodward had already agreed to personal terms with the Spain international [whose] camp initially expected the transfer to be formalized in the first week of August, only for Woodward to postpone a trip to Barcelona to attend to other business. As late as Tuesday afternoon, they remained hopeful that United could satisfy Barca's new demands that the forward's €30m release clause be met and complete the move today, or at the latest, next week.
As United faced FC Brugge in a critical Champions League qualifier at Old Trafford, Barca informed Pedro that a more attractive offer had arrived from Chelsea, and that the London club had sought permission to negotiate a salary. The player's representatives asked to be given time to discuss the situation and immediately attempted to contact United without success.
Contact was eventually made after United concluded their late 3-1 victory over Brugge. Woodward consulted with Van Gaal, who is understood to have advised his club's executive vice-chairman not to improve the transfer fee. Instead, Van Gaal suggested that it was Pedro's responsibility to apply pressure to a club at which the 28-year-old has spent his entire professional career, and, if he was not prepared to do so, that he could go elsewhere.
That provoked a conversation between Pedro's agents and Chelsea in which the London club agreed to match the salary package previously negotiated with United. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Chelsea provided tickets for Pedro to fly to London to formalize the transfer.
It did not take long for Pedro to make a final decision.
Granovskaia's personal presence might indicate that this is a dreaded "Roman-transfer" but the Mourinho phone call (welcome back, Mourinho Phone Call) should be evidence enough that there's agreement between the powers that be over Pedro coming in to help us.