Eurostars: Spanish wonderkid Pedri

Pedro González López has launched himself into the Barcelona starting team this season in such a way that he’s been impossible to ignore. Filling an Andrés Iniesta sized hole for La Blaugrana, the young Tenerife-born star is hoping to be more than just filler in the Spanish Euro 2020 campaign.

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Who is he?

It takes a special 18-year-old to play 52 out of 53 games across all competitions for Barcelona in their first season at the club. Like a seasoned pro, Pedri has nailed down a position on the starting XI in his first time trying and has made himself invaluable to a Barcelona team that is increasingly reliant on its younger players stepping up.

He’s also been the reason we haven’t seen much of Miralem Pjanic in a Barca shirt this past season, showing that youth almost always wins out over badly thought out signings.

It’s easy to think of Pedri as another product of La Masia coming through the ranks but the youngster in fact learned to ply his trade on the island of Tenerife at Las Palmas, a far stretch from Catalonia.

Just a few weeks after getting into the senior setup at Las Palmas in September 2019, Barcelona pounced and cashed in on the youngster, immediately loaning him back out to the Tenerife-based club so he could find his feet in the Segunda Division. The loan ended in June 2020 and since the 20/21 La Liga season started, Pedri has made the centre of the Camp Nou pitch his own.

Style of play

If Barcelona is starting to resemble an old classic car, then Pedri is the shiny, new engine keeping it on the road. His energy and distribution in the centre of the pitch means almost everything flows through him. The youngster has already formed an almost telepathic relationship with Lionel Messi and he will definitely be one of the reasons for the Argentine to stay at Barcelona if he decides to.

Pedri has excellent ball control and is very brave in the way he plays, running directly at players, breaking the lines with his dribbling and playing daring through balls and long passes into attack. While he has experience as a winger, he mostly plays in the centre of the pitch and Ronald Koeman has given him a free roaming role where he can operate comfortably around the field. He grew up watching his hero Andres Iniesta and it shows.

If you could pick out one flaw from Pedri’s almost impeccable Barcelona career to date, it’s that he doesn’t score enough goals. While Messi and Griezmann are taking care of that for now, Pedri will want to prove he has more strings to his bow in the coming seasons.

Role within the team

Pedri made his debut for the Spanish national side just a few months ago back in March and has made 4 senior appearances to date before his first major competition. Some may say that the Euros is coming too soon for the 18-year-old to make an impression, but those people have not been following this player’s career very closely.

Nobody, not even Barcelona, expected Pedri to do so well at such a young age for the Catalan giants but he has constantly blown expectations out of the water and will be hoping to do the same in the coming weeks on a larger scale.

The youngster has played in both a 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3 formation in his short time in the national team and has looked comfortable throughout, showing off his willingness to adapt to whatever is thrown at him.

He will be more than likely battling it out with Fabián Ruiz and Dani Olmo for a position as one of the two attacking midfielders beside Thiago Alcantara or Koke in the Spanish XI. Now, with Sergio Busquets now looking unlikely to remain in the Spain squad due to his positive Covid test during the week, Pedri will probably have more of a chance to get into Luis Enrique’s starting team for the group stages.

What the future holds

Pedri has already established himself as a key component to Barcelona’s youthful rebuild that is starting to take shape. There is no doubt going to be interest from a lot of different clubs and Barca’s ears may perk up at interest as they continue to endure financial woes. But Pedri is a Barca fan from birth and his dream has already come true, there’s nowhere else he would rather be right now and surely the hierarchy at Barca see that this man potentially has over a decade of his prime wearing the blue and red jersey.

When Messi, Busquets and Pique hang up their boots in the coming years, there’s little doubt that Pedri will be the name that gets the biggest cheers on a warm Catalan night at the Camp Nou.

The Author

Simon Kelly

Having witnessed my first live match at the Nou Camp, seeing Ronaldinho play in the flesh was the beginning of my love affair with football. I cover Premier League, La Liga and Irish football with a focus on the human element of the game.

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