This has been a fun transfer window, hasn't it? Between Raheem Sterling trading Merseyside red for Manchester blue, Petr Cech crossing the divide between West and North London and the unfancied likes of Stoke, West Ham and Swansea signing high profile foreign stars, this had already been a memorable summer.
Pedro's move to Manchester United was deemed a formality by the time he netted the winner in Barcelona's hilarious 5-4 European Super Cup victory over Sevilla. Ben Fairthorne, a freelance journalist who's worked for CNN, amongst others, had been reporting on Pedro dating back to January (mentioning Arsenal as the main suitor), but between July 23rd, 2015 and August 11th, 2015, he stated no less than five times that Pedro was a Red Devil, a sentimented echoed by the Spanish press. So it came as a huge surprise when multiple outlets confirmed that Pedro had agreed to join Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.
So what does this mean for United and Chelsea?
1) Cuadrado's the fall guy
£21.7 million. That's what it cost Chelsea to pry Juan Cuadrado away from Fiorentina in January. Since then, the Colombian has made no impact on the pitch and looks set to make way for Pedro. How did things get so bad for a player who was once the heir-appparent to Dani Alves at Barcelona?
In truth, the transfer never really made sense for Chelsea. Mourinho's infamous for implementing a system that favors a utilitarian, tactical rigidity. Everything is about protecting the goal, and having just enough going forward to eek out a comfortable victory. So it was strange that Mourinho would plop down such a sizable fee for a player who simply didn't fit in his system. Cuadrado is a talented player, with more flair than most, but it's pointless to sign him with a view to converting him into a workhorse. Mourinho already did that to Willian, and his individual stock has sunk despite his importance to the collective succes at Chelsea.
A move back to Italy beckons.
2) United are running out of options and time
United were enjoying a very productive, intelligent transfer window, to this point. Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin were expensive, but worthwhile signings that will be mainstays of United's XI for years to come, while Matteo Darmian could be the longterm answer at RB. Bastian Schweinsteiger was an expensive coup and his age and injury-proneness put into question his ability to stay on the pitch, but signing the World Cup-winning German was a real statement of intent.
All that being said, United are still short on bodies in key position. Wayne Rooney is the only real striker of note on the roster (unless you count the human battering ram known as Marouane Fellaini), while van Gaal continues to experiment with the likes of Daley Blind at CB and Sergio Romero at GK, in case David De Gea departs for Real Madrid. Signing three players in ~10 days is doable, but options are limited and teams are loath to lose their stars this late.
Expect United to make at least one more splash in the market, but it could be an overpay -- call it the cost of desperation and bad timing.
3) Good news for Adnan Januzaj
Had Pedro arrived, it goes without saying he would have been an automatic starter alongside Memphis and Mata, making it difficult for Januzaj to get much playing time. Having spent most of last season in van Gaal's doghouse, the young Belgian-Kosovar has unexpectedly been given consecutive starts in behind Rooney, nabbing the winner against Aston Villa in the process. Who know's what's changed for Januzaj, but he seems to have gained van Gaal's trust this Summer, and that will go a long way.
4) Why didn't United sign Pedro?
Reports are divided as to why the transfer never went through. Some say van Gaal personally pulled out of the deal, possibly due to the cost of the deal, others say Mourinho and Cesc Fabregas reached out to Pedro and convinced him he would look better in Chelsea's kit. The former makes little sense given United's reckless spending under van Gaal, while the letter seems reasonable enough.
One can imagine Pedro thought twice about how van Gaal had treated Angel Di Maria (scapegoated and banished to PSG) and Victor Valdes (relegated to playing with the under-21 squad) last season. Pedro, turning 28 in January, can ill afford to waste a season bedding in with a personality as notorious as van Gaal's. (See: showing his balls to the Bayern squad)
And while Mourinho isn't much better than the Dutchman, the former-Real Madrid manager and Cesc Fabregas reportedly both reached out to Pedro and assured him of playing time and an important role in the squad. Apparently this was enough for Pedro to fancy Chelsea as a better personal destination than United. Which begs the question - has Pedro learned nothing from how Chelsea discarded the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle, Mohammed Salah and now Cuadrado?