Pedro! is he ready? (Henry says that he might be)

I'm sitting .... for now ....

So, it would appear that we have a quandary.

Or do we?

In one corner, we have Pedro!, product of the farm, scorer of goals in six different competitions, with as many goals as our highly paid import Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If he keeps up his current qualities of showing up and scoring goals, we might have to change his nickname to something official, like Action Jackson, or some such.

And in the other corner, we have Thierry Henry, aged legend who banged in not only an impressive number of goals last season, but goals that were not only well-timed, but vital to our championship pursuits. This season, he has two goals, which means that P! is outscoring him at a 5-1 clip.

So quite naturally, the question has come up, and it’s our topic of the day: Is Pedro! ready to start? Let’s first hear what Henry has to say:

“If I have to play as backup, so be it, we’re here to win as a team. What Pedro is doing is incredible, he always does well when he plays and scoring goals is not easy. He is a worthy starter.”

Well, that’s the party line. But if you really were to ask Henry what he thought, perhaps he would say “Let’s see him play defense like I do, and occupy two defenders because he’s a constant threat, and create width. I can do all that because of my stellar past. And now that I’m finally healthy, I’m ready. That bicycle against Valladolid was a warning, folks. It’s go time.”

And Pedro! might say “Whatever, Gramps. Are you going to put the ball in the net, or not? If not, get out of the way and give the young’uns a shot. Um, actually I said young’uns, but I meant me, since I don’t really know what the deal is with Krkic. Bet.”

I’m not sure how I feel about the matter. I know that Henry hasn’t been at anything approaching his best, or even his form of last season. But I keep watching what he does when he doesn’t have the ball, and it’s hard not to like. On the other hand, our left wing should contain more of an offensive threat. On the other other hand, is Henry’s presence there creating space for other people. As Henry himself said in an interview yesterday:

“I always go out to the field to give the maximum, to run for others and help,” said Henry “Sometimes you do not see, but I always try to do whatever coach asks me. For example, he always asks me to provide depth to create spaces.”

And I don’t know. Then I think about the fast-learning Pedro!, who I think will admit that he’s been very lucky in his tallies. Nonetheless, you make your own luck by being in position to take advantage of those moments. He scored the winning goal in the UEFA Super Cup, and the tying goal in the Club World Cup. All he does is come on, and score, but has he been as impressive in a starting role?

I think that ultimately, for my money, Henry still presents too many intangibles to not start for us, if he’s healthy. And if his claims are true, that he played the first part of the season not really being able to bend his knee, it would explain why he’s looked so spry of late. The Frenchman says that he’s finally healthy, and ready to break his scoring drought.

On the other hand, you always wonder when the waiting just won’t pay off, when Henry’s potential for excellence will remain just that, an empty threat. And you start to think “Hmmm, maybe Pedro! is ready.”

What do you all think?

In other news

–Arsenal apparently want them some Gai Assulin. We’re talking to him about his contract, which is up this year. My guess is that he and his agent are trying to leverage some sort of first-team guarantees to a renewal. And truth be told, Assulin hasn’t exactly impressed in his appearances on the left wing with us. None of which is said to bother Arsene Wenger in the least. If we drop the ball, expect them to swoop.

Guardiola wants four summer signings: a keeper, a backup at right back and oh, some Silva and/or Fabregas wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. Complicating matters of course, is that whole election business. So stay tuned.

–Offers, we have offers: Apparently the Premiership has entered the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” world, with standing offers for Assulin, Thiago, J. Dos Santos and Jeffren. Because the contracts of all four expire this summer, all are free to negotiate with other suitors.

–If you ask on-loan defender Alberto Botia, our undefeated streak is going to end this weekend, as he predicts that Gijon will win 2-1. He’s also added that he doesn’t know yet where he will be playing next season. If it ain’t for us, something’s wrong.

And that’s what I know.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. January 27, 2010

    I say you keep Henry as the starter. Young players can get a hot streak and do well, but they don’t always have the maturity to do well when they’re not scoring. They don’t always have the knowledge or skills to do the type of things away from the ball that Henry is. Therefore, Henry is more valuable.

    This way, too, you’ve got the ability to pull Henry and give Pedro! a chance to shred defenders because he’s fresh, hyper and wants to show what he’s got.

  2. yogi
    January 27, 2010

    I think that right now, Pedro is very close to Henry and if Henry does not shape up over next four to six weeks, Pedro will over take him. Right now though, Henry is a starter for me.

  3. January 27, 2010

    I think the bicycle last week shows henry still has it….pedro is Pedro! afterall …a supersub… his performances when starting havent been all that impressive…

  4. Boat Forever
    January 27, 2010

    Henry should be the starter against strong opponents & all the away games… Pedro would have to start against not-so-scary ones like, say Valladolid. That way not only is Henry getting some rest & Pedro some valuable experience as a starter(mind you his performance against Inter has been best to date, so can’t exactly say he can do no good as a starter & flourish only as a substitute!!) but also Henry always has this goal-scoring Pedro, providing the threat of snatching away his starting spot, lurking on his heels. With Henry mentoring the lad there can only be this healthy competition which only brings success 🙂

    Pedro should surely get more minutes as starter but that should not be the case all the time

  5. Eduard
    January 27, 2010

    i think we should get the most out of Henry while he still plays for us(and at all).

    our four most important signings should be Assulim, Thiago, Dos Santos and Jeffren.

    I’d be happy if Assulim had more playing time, and next season, with Henry most likely gone, our young subs will want more playing time. Of coarse not all of them will be Puyols or Xavis but I’d be happy if at least 1 became and Barcelona legend.

    I opt for not buying any cracks in the summer…special with the WC, the prices will be higher(although, not as high as last summer)

  6. Eklavya
    January 27, 2010

    Pedro is Pedro and Henry is Henry.

    Once P!’s scoring run dries up he won’t bring as much as Henry does even when he doesn’t score. Pedro basically bangs in goals (or at least till now) but he doesn’t really provide us with anything else.

    It’s more complicated than what I’ve said but that’s the essence of it.

  7. Līva
    January 27, 2010

    I’m an extremely occasional poster here and this is quite off topic, but funny nevertheless.


    Barca boys even have the powers to increase birth rate! Nine months after Iniesta’s goal at Stamford Bridge there are born more babies every day than usual. 😀

    • Eklavya
      January 27, 2010

      Well, people did jizz when they saw that goal haha sorry for the bad humor 🙂

    • majatt
      January 27, 2010

      Barca breaks another goal scoring record, lol.

    • Phil
      January 27, 2010

      Ya this is actually a pretty common phenomenon. Another one that sticks out in my memory is the Red Sox series vs the Yankees in the ALCS in 2004. That and, of course, their World Series sweep right after that.

  8. majatt
    January 27, 2010

    Henry should be the choice started til season end unless he starts to stink it up.

    Pedro will be ready for prime time next season and then Bojan can become the sub for Left or Right wing/Copa Del Rey striker. If he doesn’t like it he can leave this summer with Gai to Arsenal for Fabregas…just kidding.

    About the youngsters it raises a valid point. In 3 years Messi will be 25, Pedro will be 25, Iniesta will be 28/9 and Xavi will be 33. I can still see Xavi starting since his game isn’t built on pace but he will definitely be nearing he end of his rope because it does require stamina. I can see Iniesta, JDS and Toure in the midfield. Messi, Ibra/Kierisson and Pedro upfront but where will Assulin (20), Thiago (21), Bojan (22) and Jeffren (24? not sure of his current age) fit in?

    One or more will be sold between now and then.

  9. Eklavya
    January 27, 2010

    BTW, GDS (Gio dos Santos) is reunited with Rijkaard.
    You could have included that in the post…

  10. ooga aga
    January 27, 2010

    you scooped me! here is a link:

    • ooga aga
      January 27, 2010

      (link is story of gio’s loan to galatasaray, where frank rijkaard is coach)

    • Blow-Granite
      January 27, 2010

      I always loved the qualities of Gio. Hope Galatasaray works out better for him. He has good pace and wing play. I have no idea why he has not been successful so far.

  11. Blow-Granite
    January 27, 2010

    There is no replacing Titi. He is a class act. I reckon he should end his career around 35 just like Larson did by providing the champions league assists. He has the character, skill, and size, to play as a central striker if Ibra ever gets injured. There is nobody else in the team that can fit into that role.

  12. Jim
    January 27, 2010

    Henry for me. When kids are really ready they force their way in and there’s no argument. Pedro’s all round game isn’t there yet.

  13. Ciaran
    January 27, 2010

    Botia is proving to be quite the defender. I have watched Sporting a couple of times this season and he has been impressive.
    My only reservation is his long passing which always seems to be over-hit. Maybe it’s a problem having less options infront of him. He has been better than Chygrynskiy, Marquez and Henrique so far this season.

    Assulin has not progressed as quick as I had thought he would but maybe that’s a good thing. With the exception of Messi, no one has come into the first team as a teenager and been very impressive.
    Thiago seems a very intelligent playmaker, a la Deco & Jonathan dos Santos looks a more conservative passer. Jeffren seems explosive but, long-term, I don’t see his use as 5th choice winger.

    A left forward next summer to replace Henry will be essential. Funnily enough, with Pedro’s attributes, I see him as a long term supersub. Being able to change a game with a substitution is a great option for a manager. Pedro does that.

    • Kxevin
      January 27, 2010

      It’s interesting that few seem to see Pedro! as a full-time starter. Right away, I thought of him as the new Giuly, who was never as impressive starting as when he was a sub. His pace, though good, became better working against tired defenders.

      That left winger for next year is going to be verrry interesting.

      I might be sorry that I said this in a few years, but Assulin strikes me as another of the “killer youth, good but not great grownup” product. But we haven’t seen enough of him yet. He’s always done the jumpy rabbit thing whenever we’ve played him.

      Thiago might turn out to be the best of the bunch. I really like what I’ve seen from him. I think that JDS is a keeper, also.

  14. BL
    January 27, 2010

    for me its very very obvious, henry starts and is swapped for pedro in the 60th min depending on the result or how titi is doing on the day.

    pedro is killer against tired defenders.

    henry is killer at tiring out defenders.


  15. auld super
    January 27, 2010

    In fairness to Henry he’s trying but just not producing. Give a few starts to Pedro I say he’s earned it. It doesn’t mean Henry is finnished.

  16. January 27, 2010

    I think Pedro is more than ready to be a starter. Thats not the point. The reason why Henry still has the edge for me is his ability to play as a striker in the box. With Ibra performing more as a roaming forward, you need some presence inside the box. Having Messi on the other side who serve as a 10 most of the time means that Henry is still essential. Its more a matter of needs, than quality as Pedro for me is qualified to take a shot.

    Having said that, Henry need to start serving that role in the coming games. He didnt convince me yet this season, but thats part of the overall inconvinience at the offense department that contains Messi and Ibra as well.

    I think with Henry getting little older, the perfect situation is not having him as a starter, nor it is having Pedro as a starter. The best thing is to create a smart rotation that keeps everyone fresh and in the right form to serve based on the conditions of each and every game.

    • Blow-Granite
      January 27, 2010

      If Henry is fit, he is my default starter!

    • Aenea
      January 28, 2010

      The major issue with this option is paychecks. Will barca want to keep Henry in this role with his massive salary?

  17. vicsoc8
    January 27, 2010

    it’s really difficult to have:

    Defense: Muniesa, Fontas, Botia
    Midfield: JDS, Thiago
    Forward: Gai, Bojan, Jeffren

    All of whom are either in or around the first team or on loan. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact is I don’t think we’ll be able to hold onto all of them.

    I think Muniesa, Thiago, and Bojan have the ability to become starters. JDS is good but the jury is still out in my mind on how good he can become. Both Botia and Fontas could be great squad players. Unfortunately, I think Jeffren isn’t going to last – his agent is too impatient and I don’t think he’s dynamic enough to earn serious time. As much as I hate to do it, I have to agree with Kxevin on Gai. I don’t think he’s going to make it.

    As for Pedro and Henry – Henry should start. Pedro makes a great supersub, but if we are going to win titles we need to reintegrate Henry, and for that he needs playing time.

  18. Keano
    January 27, 2010

    We do need an alternative to Ibra, a back up in the mould of Larsson.

  19. January 28, 2010

    i would love to see us playing like this:
    pedro is our fox in the box.not really a winger.



    i would love if we can keep henry for next season.but he must be contend to only be a sub for ibra.
    henry has so much experience! he can teach all these youngsters.

  20. BlaugranaDOOM
    January 28, 2010

    Agree that Henry should still be a part of Barca next season. Having Henry up front to play striker or wing would be great for us. He would have to accept that he is too old to be a striker, but he can still play another year at a high level. Look at Giggs. He doesn’t start every game, but still plays a very important role for MU.

    We are living in the age of impatience. Players like JDS, Gai, and Jeffren want first team football, which is exactly what you want. But, they are still kids. Messi, Fabregas, and others who are superstars by 18 or 19 have skewed expectations. Now, if you aren’t starting by 20, you are a failure. This team just won the treble for Christ’s sake. Wait more years and you will be an integral part of the best club in the world.

    Jeffren is probably gone. He is much older than the others and needs first team football now and probably can’t break into the first team. We should keep JDS, Bojan, and Thiago, loaning them out for the next season if necessary, but they need to stay. Getting weekly first team action would really allow them to blossom by letting them make mistakes out of the spotlight and gain kudos with their skill.

    I have said this before, but Iniesta didn’t really start playing for the first team until 2005 (really because of Xavi’s injury), but only became a regular in 2006. Xavi played defensive mid until Deco stopped performing. Henry was not a superstar until he moved to Arsenal(age 21-2). I could go on. Point is, if you are 19-20 and playing for the best club in the world, relax, train with Xavi, Messi and co, improve and the chance will come.

    • Alexinho
      January 28, 2010

      Very good point…”if you’re not starting by 20, you’re a failure [these days].” Hmmm…

      My Arsenal ears are tingling again. Assulin to Arsenal is interesting; if Wenger is giving the negotiators that unblinking “If-he-hasn’t-performed-in-your-team-that-doesn’t-matter” game, than my interest is certainly piqued. And would you look at that, even though so many on this blog do not want Fabregas, it seems Guardiola does (source?). Told you so? Too early to say.

      If JDS, Assulin, Thiago, AND Jeffren are all on the chopping block this season, it’ll be extremely important for the future of the club to see who stays and who goes. Some will certainly go, and this is about as unpredictable question as we in the blogosphere can confront.

  21. Alexinho
    January 28, 2010

    Per the big question, I say Henry starts again for Gijon and RIPS SOME ASS OPEN against a surprisingly mouthy Botia. Very surprised by such a comment from a loanee.

    I just wouldn’t be able to believe it if Henry wraps up the season with less than five goals. Hell, I would puke my guts out sobbing if he dived to such a point that he finished in single digits for, I believe, the first time since he had a name.

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