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OFFICIAL: Flamengo buys Pedro

The talented young striker’s Viola career is officially over, and all we have left is to try and figure out what it all meant.

2020 Brasileirao Series A: Flamengo v Athletico PR Play Behind Closed Doors Amidst the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Fiorentina announced today that Flamengo have triggered the clause in on-loan striker Pedro Guilherme Abreu dos Santos’ deal and will make him a permanent member of the squad. While we’re sorry to see a talented young player leave the Viola, it’s pretty clear that the 23-year-old Brazilian had no future in Florence, so this feels like the best outcome for everyone.

To review: Pedro joined Fiorentina from Fluminense for €11 million in September 2019. It was a slightly odd move as he’d been linked to the likes of Real Madrid before suffering a knee injury, but it seemed like a smart piece of business by Daniele Pradè to snap up a highly-rated player at a discount.

Things got weird immediately after that. Pedro trained with the team but didn’t make his debut for months; he ended up playing a grand total of 59 minutes across 4 appearances despite Fiorentina’s obvious need for a competent striker. Then, in January, he returned to Brazil on loan to Flamengo, who paid €1 million in loan fees with a reported €12 million to make the move permanent at season’s end.

Pedro lit up the other Serie A, scoring 17 goals in 33 appearances (1 every 104 minutes), including some in big-time matches. His play earned a call up to the Selecão, where he earned his first cap. Flamengo must be excited at the opportunity to pair him and Gabriel Barbosa up top, whose original injury caused Pedro become a consistent starter in the first place. I imagine their conversations about moving to Italy are pretty fascinating.

There were rumors that, due to the financial hit they’d taken during the coronavirus times, Flamengo didn’t have the cash to redeem Pedro, which would result in him returning to Florence; since that pretty clearly wasn’t an outcome anyone wanted, we’re glad that he’ll stay with the Rubro-Negro, as that’s his boyhood club and he’s clearly finding his footing there.

It’s fair to ask, though, what the hell this whole story teaches us. While Pedro has excelled back in Brazil, there’s no guarantee that he would’ve been able to transplant that form to Italy (again, having Gabigol on his team is a stark reminder). However, you wonder why Vincenzo Montella and Giuseppe Iachini ignored him so completely when they were desperate for a center forward, and why Pradè was willing to flip him for a small capital gain after so short a stint in Tuscany.

The original rumor, of course, is that Fiorentina served as a middleman to allow a rising star to move from Fluminense to archrivals Flamengo without drawing the ire of the fans. That would explain why the Viola were so leery in putting him on the pitch, which could’ve gotten him hurt and possibly scuppered the deal. Adding a small plusvalenza for essentially doing some paperwork isn’t a terrible idea in theory, but it’s pretty ridiculous in practice, especially for a measly €2 million.

I’d also suggest that there are larger forces at work behind the scenes. For example, Pedro is represented by an agency called PGB Sports. While they’re active on social media, they don’t have a website or any contact information that I can find. Pedro is their highest-profile player by far, per Transfermarkt; the others are either in lower divisions in Brazil or South Korea, or unattached to any teams at the moment. A player agency that doesn’t list an address, an email, or a phone number seems awfully strange.

I’d love to wrap this up by providing a glimpse behind the curtain, but I can’t. The best I can do is point to the movement behind the curtain that indicates something is going on back there, but none of us are privy to what it is. Instead, let’s close this out with a “Good bye, good luck, and thanks (we think?)” for Pedro, who’ll join fellow Fiorentina enigmas like Octavio and Hernán Toledo in the annals of Viola history. It’s maybe not the legacy we hoped he’d leave, but it’s a legacy nonetheless.