If there’s one thing we as Fiorentina fans aren’t used to, it’s a striker consistently putting the ball in the back of the net. In the last two seasons, no Viola striker has scored more than six goals in Serie A, which is about as ugly as it gets. Looking back, Fiorentina has not had a consistent poacher since Alberto Gilardino’s first stint, despite numerous attempts to solve the problem.
That’s where Pedro Guilherme Abreu dos Santos, aka Pedro, enters. Daniele Pradé scooped up the 23-year-old Brazilian from Fluminense just before the 2019 summer transfer window slammed shut. From the start, Pedro was a high-risk, high-reward signing. Sure, he cost 11 million euros just a year after tearing his ACL, but this was a guy who at 21 was scoring consistently in one of the best leagues in the world, and had reportedly agreed to a move to Real Madrid just before his injury.
Unfortunately, Pedro spent just four months in Florence, totaling a measly 59 minutes over four substitute appearances. Whether his failure to perform was due to after-effects from his injury, a fallout with management or homesickness is unknown, but needless to say, it did not work out. Last January, he was promptly sent back to Rio de Janeiro on loan to Flamengo, hoping to regain the form which had made him one of Brazil’s most promising strikers. There are whispers that given Flamengo’s prior interest in Pedro last summer, that Fiorentina was a roundabout way for Pedro to join Fluminense’s rivals without angering their fans, but we’ll save that conspiracy for another day.
Pedro played sparingly for Flamengo before lockdown, which is easy to understand given that the mengāo have Gabriel Barbosa on their roster. However, an injury to Gabigol gave Pedro a window of opportunity which he seized. Despite new coach Domenec Torrent’s struggles at the beginning of the season, Flamengo has been on a tear recently, taking 27 points from their last eleven games to become co-leaders in the Brazilian Série A. Pedro has been a big part of that. Despite not starting until the 7th match of the season, he has scored eight goals in 754 minutes, good enough for a goal every 94 minutes. Add four goals in other competitions, and there are few strikers in the world who have been better since the global restart this past spring. What does this mean for his future once his loan expires this winter? I’ll run through some options below- after you watch Pedro score his second goal deep in stoppage time to defeat Goáis Tuesday night.
Último lance do jogo, gol do Pedro de virada em cima do Goiás e Flamengo continua na busca da liderança.— Paulo Diniz (@DinizPaulinho) October 14, 2020
A felicidade do Michael com esse gol é contagiante!
O Michael comemorando efusivamente é realmente um primor de comemoração. pic.twitter.com/XapAWEsme3
1: He stays with Flamengo on another loan or outright purchase
The likeliest option. The agreed length of the loan is extremely awkward due to Covid. While Brazil’s Série A normally operates on a May to December schedule, Covid has pushed the end of the season to late February, meaning that Pedro’s loan, due to expire on December 31st, would force him to miss both the last 11 matches in the league and the closing stages of the Copa Libertadores. These last few months have proven that Flamengo is the best place for Pedro right now. Watching him play last night against Red Bull Bragantino, Pedro looked full of confidence, striking whenever he had a glimpse of goal. For both Flamengo and Pedro, what makes the most sense is for him to play through a full campaign in Brazil.
However, Flamengo’s finances are the biggest obstacle to this operation. Covid has hit them especially hard, causing the club to run up debts to the point where they had to negotiate with Fiorentina to extend the payment of the two-million euro loan fee for Pedro. Flamengo was reportedly given an option to purchase, while it is also rumored that Fiorentina possesses a buy-back clause similar to Riccardo Sottil. There are reports that negotiations are currently ongoing between the clubs, so we’ll have to wait and see on that front. Given his current form, I’d be extremely surprised if Daniele Pradé gives Flamengo any sort of discount on a sale, but the man has left me shocked before.
2: He goes on loan in Europe to test his skills at a higher level
From Fiorentina’s point of view, if Flamengo cannot pay up, why not see if Pedro is the real deal? The Brazilian league is full of talent, but if Pedro can prove his quality in a top 5 league his value will soar, giving Fiorentina more flexibility in the mercato next summer. A move to a fellow mid-table Serie A team may make sense for all parties- a team like Hellas Verona or Parma could give Pedro the playing time he needs to prove himself in Europe while allowing Fiorentina to monitor his development closer to home. Then, next summer, a decision could be made about his future by whoever the Sporting Director or coach will be.
3: The Premier League comes calling
If there’s one thing Premier League teams love doing, it’s overpaying. When it comes to Brazilian attackers, I can name several from Joelinton, to Wesley, to Felipe Anderson... if Pedro keeps scoring for Flamengo, would anyone be surprised if West Ham throw 20 million euros at Pedro in January? If Commisso, Pradé, and Iachini don’t view Pedro in Fiorentina’s short or long term plans, it makes sense to make a profit, gain liquidity, and reinvest in a player who will actually play for the team.
4: He returns to Florence and fights for a spot in the starting XI
This seems the unlikeliest option, but you never know. If Guiseppe Iachini sees a role for Pedro at Fiorentina, there’s a chance we see Pedro suit up in purple again. His arrival would mean Patrick Cutrone would almost certainly leave, and from there he’d be competing with Christian Kouamé and Dušan Vlahović for a starting shirt. Even if both Kouamé and Vlahović are more gifted athletically, from my limited viewing Pedro seems by a good margin the best finisher of the three, and is solid in the build-up phase as well. If Fiorentina doesn’t want to spend big on a striker this winter, he may be considered an in-house solution.
However, adding yet another young unproven striker to the roster would drive me, the fans, and Beppe mad. Add in the fact that Pedro’s relationship with Fiorentina is likely not the best after sitting on the bench for four months, and I have a hard time seeing him lining up for the Viola this year. Would you be in favor of a Pedro return? Want him to go on loan in Europe? Sell him while he’s playing well? Let me know below.