Chelsea have emerged late to challenge Manchester United’s bid to secure the Barcelona forward Pedro Rodríguez after holding talks with the Catalan club aimed at agreeing a fee.
The United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward flew to Spain earlier this week to discuss Pedro’s transfer to Old Trafford and had been confident a deal would be concluded once the precise structure of the payments over a £22m move had been agreed. While United believe the player is still keen to join them, Chelsea’s interest is now threatening the deal.
The Premier League champions came close to securing the 28-year-old World Cup and European Championships winner in January, only for José Mourinho to opt against pursuing a deal because Pedro was cup-tied in the Champions League.
Chelsea eventually signed Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina instead, though the Colombian did not feature in the knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain and has proved a huge disappointment since moving to England. He has effectively now been made available for transfer, most likely on loan.
A move for Pedro, which had been mooted again earlier this summer, would add significantly to Chelsea’s attacking options as the club endure their worst start to a domestic season since 1998. Yet their renewed interest also reflects the growing sense at Stamford Bridge that United have re-emerged as contenders for the Premier League title.
Chelsea are also weighing up whether to submit a fourth and final bid worth £40m to Everton for the England defender John Stones after seeing an offer of £30m knocked back on Tuesday.
The owner, Roman Abramovich, will back Mourinho’s attempts to strengthen the squad before the closure of the window and encouraged the recruitment department to secure the manager’s targets.