“I don’t have to justify Pedro Leon’s absence from the squad list. I will explain it to the President if he asks me about it. You talk of Pedro Leon as if he was Maradona or Zidane, but only two days ago he was playing for Getafe. He will play whenever he works like I want him to, and it will be more difficult for him to play when he doesn’t.”
Jose Mourinho in his official press conference before facing Auxerre in the Champions League on September 27th,2010.
So, who is Pedro Leon?
Pedro Leon has signed a contract with Real Madrid in the summer of 2010 to make himself available for all the training sessions for players of Real Madrid, with a special clause of not naming him in the squad for most of the matches. He has honoured the contract well by making himself available for all the training sessions. However, the question is, were his exploits in the training sessions worth €10 million? Was he not good enough at Getafe that they had to sell him to Real Madrid just to learn how to train properly?
When Getafe signed Pedro Leon, in 2009 from Real Valladolid, he was not a superstar; however, he was a special player, who was previously linked to Real Madrid and Chelsea. According to reports, when he was playing for Real Mucia, he nearly signed for Chelsea. But later signed with Levante in the La Liga itself. After spending a year with Levante, in which the club got relegated, he then signed for Real Valladolid and helped them beat Real Madrid 1-0 in 2008-09 season. After his impressive performances for Valladolid, Getafe signed him on a five year deal in August 2010.
Getafe had found a new hero. In his first and only season at the club, Pedro Leon excelled by scoring 8 goals and more importantly set up goals for his team mates with his vision. He amassed 9 valuable assists and led Getafe to an honourable sixth position and historically qualified for the Europa League, only the second time in their history. His terrific performances made people notice the talent in him and Real Madrid snapped him up for 10 million Euros, thus making him a part of their new project – Neo-Galactico.
What is special about him?
Pedro Leon is an exciting winger, who can play on either side of the pitch. He has a gifted right foot and right from his Murcia days, he’s the preferred dead ball specialist for his clubs. He is a no-nonsense winger, who makes his run and then delivers impeccably to the target man. He also has the ability to set up his team mates, with his ground passes, in goalscoring positions.
The other impressive trait about Leon is his ability to score goals. He has the knack to get into good goal scoring positions in an attack and is often found at the right place at the right time. His goal against AC Milan, at the San Siro, in which he came off the bench, was an exquisite one. The point to be noted is that Leon saved Real Madrid from losing while earning them a valuable point.
These two qualities were the primary reason as to why Pedro Leon was signed by Los Merengues. He was considered the perfect utility winger, as Real Madrid had already signed Argentine sensation – Angel Di Maria and also a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
What happened at Real Madrid?
It is often reported that Pedro Leon was not a signing made by Jose Mourinho. Instead he was signed by Jorge Valdano, director general of Real Madrid, even before Mourinho signed his papers. Quite understandably, when Mourinho took charge, he had no idea whatsoever about Leon and had to refer to videos to get an idea about the kind of player that he is.
It was very evident that Leon would not be scheme of things for Real Madrid, considering the superstars they had signed. Nonetheless, it was sure that he would get his chances to prove himself. Mourinho had started to give him some playing time and Leon seemed to be settling down quite well into the Real Madrid system. Then came the fateful game against Levante. Mourinho sent Pedro Leon as a substitute, but after the game dismissed the Spanish winger, citing noncompliance. Pedro, reportedly had failed to perform his defensive duties as per Mourinho’s mandate. Also, it was rumored that Leon was cocky enough to mention to his team mates that he would be starting for Real Madrid against Auxerre and his meeting with Michel, his coach at Getafe, was the final nail in his coffin. He rubbed Mourinho the wrong way in all these three instances and was promptly dropped from the team altogether. Since then, Pedro has found it extremely difficult to make a comeback to the first team. In his press conference before Auxerre, Mourinho ridiculed Leon publicly by stating that he was a nobody, and his exclusion deserved no explanation.
Pedro Leon explained the Levante situation as, “The reasons why I stayed out of the squad in the last two games were that I did not do what was ordered of me in the match versus Levante. We talked and everything is solved. I know that the coach trusts in me and I will continue working to help the team.
The reasons why I have not played are sporting-based. What we spoke about remains between Mourinho and me. I see no punishment.”
For the Copa Del Rey semi final against Sevilla, at Santiago Bernabeu, Fernando Gago and Pedro Leon were inexplicably dropped from the team inspite of being fully fit. MARCA reported that Leon and Gago were involved in a heated argument over a bad challenge by Gago on Leon. The argument on the training pitch subsequently led to the two players coming to blows in the dressing room, with team mates stepping in to resolve the dispute. However, for reasons unknown, Gago made it to the team for the latter matches, while Pedro was left out. It’s perplexing and many fell that Mourinho’s clearly victimizing Leon.
In the match against Racing, Mourinho did not have many of his regular starters and could have given Leon a much-needed start. Notwithstanding, he kept Leon on the bench and handed Alex Fernandez, his debut. Later, the Special One claimed that those few minutes were more consequential to Alex than to Leon.
What next for Leon?
Pedro Leon has a lot going against him at Valdebebas and seems to have fallen completely out of favor with Mourinho. It was widely reported that Chelsea and AC Milan were interested in signing the former Getafe star in the winter transfer window. However, Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho apparently weren’t interested in any offers for the Spaniard.
The best thing about Leon is, he has not spoken anything ill about the club or his manager and has maintained a dignified silence. He’s neither irresponsible, nor inactive, in his training sessions. Infact, the Castilla players admit that Leon had joined them for some training sessions and helped them. This attitude has earned praise from Real Madrid fans, who want to see Pedro Leon in action; although it appears highly unlikely.
Real Madrid do have an able replacement for Pedro in Juan Carlos, a Real Madrid youth team winger. Mourinho handed a debut to the young lad after the Levante incident and the youngster has been experiencing a purple patch with the Castilla side. Hence if Real Madrid needs someone on the bench, Juan Carlos is their man. Why would they want to keep Pedro Leon in the team and pay his wages, when clearly he isn’t going to feature as much as he’d have loved to?
At his presentation to the Madridistas at Santiago Bernabeu, Pedro Leon claimed that it was his dream to play for Real Madrid. Nonetheless, it’s turning out to be a nightmare instead. Every player is bound to make mistakes and deserves a second chance to make amends. Sadly, that’s not the case with Leon. Madridistas can only feel sorry for how he is being treated and wish him all the luck and success in the future.
Author’s Notes: I, for one, believe that Pedro Leon has it in him to succeed at Real Madrid and must be retained next year. He deserves more games to prove himself at Real Madrid.