Report: Manchester United ready to activate Barcelona winger Pedro's release clause

Manchester United are exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona's Pedro, who has also been linked with Chelsea and Liverpool.

According to The Guardian, Louis van Gaal is hopeful of acquiring Pedro from Barcelona to increase Manchester United’s attacking options, with the Red Devils manager poised to trigger the forward’s release clause of £22million.

United are already heading into the new season with an impressive line-up of attacking players, including Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata and Angel di Maria. However, following the departure of Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce, they are desperately lacking strikers and it is understood that Van Gaal is targeting the Barcelona star, who is more than capable in a central role, in an effort to address that issue.

Pedro has struggled for regular game time at the Nou camp under Luis Enrique following Luis Suarez’s arrival, though reports suggest that the coach does not want to lose him. The 27-year-old signed a new deal last month - as covered by the Guardian - but, amid interest in his services, he negotiated a reduced buy-out clause; from £109m to £22m. This is perhaps an indicator that he would consider moving on.

Both Premier League champions Chelsea and Liverpool are also understood to be tracking Pedro, as per the Mirror, who could be prised away from the Nou Camp for his buy-out fee. His 50-plus goals in just over 200 La Liga matches for the Catalan outfit have clearly caught the attention of the Premier League's finest. 

What do the stats say?

The 27-year-old spent the majority of the previous campaign on the bench for the La Liga giants, as manager Luis Enrique continued to stick with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as his front three. However, he still weighed in with six goals and 25 key passes throughout his 35 appearances - 20 of which came as a substitute. 

As you would perhaps expect from a La Masia graduate, the Spaniard is an exceptional distributor of the ball - he completed 87% of his passes last season - while he offers plenty of confidence when it comes to taking on an opponent. La Liga viewers witnessed his impressive ability to carry the ball at times last term, as he found success in 53% of his attempted dribbles. 

While he is not an out-and-out striker, Pedro would undeniably bolster Van Gaal's attacking options. He would perhaps play a similar role to that of Theo Walcott - when the Englishman is fit - or Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal, switching between the flanks and a central position depending on the needs of the team. 

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