The history between Lazio and AS Roma has always been tense and heated as many exhilarating matches have been played between these two sides. It is rare to see a player leave Lazio to join Roma or vice versa, however, during this past transfer window, Pedro became the first player in 40 years to switch directly between the rivals.
Roma manager, Jose Mourinho, did not have Pedro in his plans and the forward became expendable. For that reason, the Giallorossi terminated his contract after two seasons and he immediately signed with Lazio on a two-year deal. Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri was said to have requested management to sign the player due to their time together at Chelsea.
This deal upset many fans due to the fact that Pedro left one side of Rome to join the other. However, did the forward ever become a real Romanista? He spent just one season with the club and was quickly phased out by previous manager, Paulo Fonseca. It was a stint that did not work out well for the player and club and he now has the opportunity for a fresh start with Lazio.
So, why was signing Pedro a good move by Lazio?
Lazio were in dire need of wingers as, prior to Pedro joining the club, they only had Felipe Anderson, 18-year-old Raul Moro and 16-year-old Luka Romero to rely on. Lazio’s options were thin upfront but Pedro will provide some much-needed experience that the younger players can learn and benefit from.
In addition, the forward is a versatile player. While the Spaniard primarily plays as a left-winger he has the ability to play on either flank. He is a two-footed player which makes him effective on either side. Furthermore, has been used in the midfield in past seasons which will give Sarri some flexibility in the event certain players pick up injuries.
Another important fact is that Pedro spent one season under Sarri at Chelsea and, as a result, understands what will be expected of him from his manager. He is familiar with the manager’s tactics, philosophy and style of play which will make Pedro’s transition with Lazio easier and quicker. The Italian prefers to use the 4-3-3 which is suitable to Pedro’s style of play and will allow him to be efficient under Sarri.
During the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, Pedro had a successful season under the Italian tactician as he finished the season with 13 goals and five assists in 52 matches. Eight of his 13 goals came during Chelsea’s run in the UEFA Europa League where they went on to defeat Arsenal 4-1 in the finals and delivered Sarri his first trophy as manager. Pedro was one of their most effective players in that competition and managed to even score in the finals.
The deal had little risk as Pedro arrived on a free transfer and signed with Lazio for two seasons. It is a deal that benefitted the manager and will cost the club only his wages. Most importantly, Lazio have a player who knows Sarri, understands his system, and will provide quality depth.
Lazio’s season opener versus Empoli was a good start for Pedro as he was impactful in their 3-1 win. Arriving late in the transfer market and training only two days prior to the match, it was a surprise to see him start. He contributed a productive 60 minutes for Sarri, as he was energetic, made strong runs, executed timely passes and was heavily involved in the offensive play. Pedro finished the match with one successful dribble, a pass accuracy rate of 82.9% and completed three of four long ball passes.
He then followed up with another impressive performance in Lazio’s 6-1 win versus Spezia and was their best player in the 2-0 loss versus Milan. Most recently, in the Derby della Capitale, he cemented himself in the history books as he scored a goal. His celebration showed how much it meant to the forward to score for the Biancocelesti versus his former club.
While it is still early, it has been an impressive start for the Brazilian. At the age of 34, Pedro has shown no signs of slowing down as he has shown to be a player who has pace, good technical skills, a decent defensive work rate, and the ability to score goals and create chances in the final third.