We were all rather excited back in August of 2015.
Chelsea were Premier League champions; Jose Mourinho was about to build us another dynasty; the squad was full of champions; and the veritable assembly line of talent rolling out of the Academy had us sitting pretty for the foreseeable future. Gazumping Manchester United for Pedro's signature, getting a proven winner with immaculate credentials from Barcelona for a rock-bottom price, was just icing on the cake. He would prove the only major signing of the summer and while we may have had a few ominous notions about what was a subpar transfer window, really, how bad could things get considering we had just won a double?
Don't answer that question.
Things didn't exactly go all that well for Pedro either. He had a great debut, leading Chelsea to our first win of the season, but he never quite seemed to live up to his credentials as Barcelona's lucky charm whose only fault was not being as good as Messi or Neymar or Luis Suarez. His first touch was inconsistent, his control unimpressive, his decision-making rather baffling at times. Here's the perfect highlight of his first year at Chelsea, as he goes on a storming run the wrong way.
Nothing Pedro can ever do in a Chelsea shirt again that can be this annoying & ridiculous at the same time pic.twitter.com/miLqqPazjp— Frank Lucas (@TundeOS) August 20, 2016
And yet, Pedro scored seven goals in the league, good enough for second on the team, which of course was just as much an indictment of the rest of the team as Pedro himself. It was the first time in his career that he finished with less than double-digit goals in all competitions.
Given his subpar season, rumors of a return to Barca's comforting embraces were anything but surprising, though while Pedro did visit his old haunting grounds recently, he assures that the visit was purely perfunctory in nature.
"I talked with [Barcelona president Josep Maria] Bartomeu, but perhaps more was made of the conversation than what it merited, in terms of speculation."
"It is difficult to return somewhere, but you will always have memories of your time at the club."
-Pedro; source: Mirror
Just as we welcome back our legends with open arms, Barcelona will always welcome back Pedro. But he's a good enough professional to give Chelsea his all while he's here, and while he's very much been second choice under Conte to start the season, he has taken full advantage of recent opportunities granted to him, including notching his 50th appearance for the club over the weekend.
"I was very happy for the goal, to score again, and for my 50th appearance for this club. It was a special day for me."
"It's nice to play 50 games, no? This is a big club and for me it's a pleasure to have made this many appearances. I hope I will make many more. The supporters were really good with the team and I enjoyed that moment a lot"
With Willian away on compassionate leave, Pedro made two consecutive starts in the Premier League, in Chelsea's wins over Leicester City and Manchester United, scoring one goal and assisting on two others. He still looks surprisingly awkward at times, but he's proving effective nonetheless in the 3-4-3. In Chelsea's loss to West Ham, he even acquitted himself well enough as a left wing-back, which, given our lack of depth there behind Marcos Alonso, could be a useful feature of the squad going forward.
"Training has been very good with [Conte]. He has a good idea about football, he is a strong character and he's really a very good guy and he is good for the team."
"The new system is different but these three [Premier League] games have shown it's a good solution for us. It's worked very well and it's good for us to have another option. It suits the players we have and it's been perfect for our team."
"Personally I have high confidence at the moment. I am feeling good physically and mentally, and the mentality at the club is very strong and competitive."
-Pedro; source: Chelsea FC
With Willian back, Conte faces a tough decision who to pick for Sunday's match against Southampton. The right choice could very well be Pedro, a development that would've been unexpected just a few weeks ago.
Welcome to Pedro's best Chelsea moment. Long may it last.