LONDON: Jose Mourinho has always loved beating Manchester United and now he appears to have achieved that again off the pitch, with the likely snatching of Barcelona’s Pedro out of the Old Trafford grasp for £21.1m.

United had appeared front-runners to land sign unsettled Pedro after executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward flew to Barcelona on Monday to agree a £22m fee. But the player apparently grew concerned when he learned that United were haggling over the payment schedule.

This was when Chelsea, stung by the clarity of last Sunday’s three-goal defeat at Manchester City following the opening home draw with Swansea, stepped back by offering £19m up front compared with United’s £17m.

Chelsea have long admired Pedro’s pace and goal-scoring potential. They were close to signing him last January until manager Mourinho mixed the deal because Pedro was not eligible to play in the Champions League.

Hence Chelsea, mistakenly as it turned out, signed Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina instead. The Colombian has never looked happy in the Premier League and is being lined up for a return to Italian football with Juventus.

As for Pedro Chelsea, this time, were not going to be beaten once they had decided more spending in attack was essential. Owner Roman Abramovich has long admired the 28-year-old whose future appeared bleak at Camp Nou with the ongoing success of the ‘three amigos’ Leo Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Mourinho also spoke to Pedro personally to convince the winger he will have an important role to play at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City, at one stage interested in Pedro, remain focused on trying to prise Kevin De Bruyne out of Wolfsburg.