It seems written in the stars that “the new Iniesta” will follow in the footsteps of the Spain and Barca legend by becoming a first-team star at the Nou Camp, writes Alasdair Hooper.
For supporters watching Euro 2020, one of the joys of the tournament has been seeing Spain midfielder Pedri at work.
He may have been credited with one of the most bizarre own goals we have seen at the Euros – thanks to goalkeeper Unai Simon’s mistake against Croatia – but even then, there is no doubting the Barcelona player’s class on the ball. And let’s not forget, he’s still only 18.
This summer, Pedri has announced himself on the international football stage and has already drawn comparisons to another Spain and Barcelona legend, Andres Iniesta. It’s the latest chapter in a rapid rise after the player’s transfer from Las Palmas to Barcelona in September 2020. The Catalan club’s transfer activity has had plenty of duds recently but Pedri certainly does not fall into that category.
The midfielder managed to make 52 appearances in all competitions during his debut Barcelona season and, with the technical ability he possesses, it’s probably no surprise he has been compared to someone like Iniesta.
Those glowing comparisons haven’t stopped there, with Chelsea manager Emma Hayes describing him as a “mini Luka Modric” in commentary. He also works incredibly hard and looks to be an ideal personality to have in a dressing room.
To add to the list of praise he has already picked up in his short career, Pedri also broke Wayne Rooney’s record for being the youngest player to be named in a starting XI in a European Championship knockout game. He achieved that feat aged just 18 and 215 days old.
While Pedri’s immediate attention will be on performing in their quarter-final clash with Switzerland, he has also just been named as part of the Spanish Olympic squad for Tokyo 2020. There are now fears that he, and five other members of Luis Enrique’s team who have also been selected for the Games, could suffer burnout if they continue to play football through the summer with no break.
Combine that with the congested Covid-affected season and there is a real risk of exhaustion – and no one wants to see a player of Pedri’s calibre suffer from that. Such is the fear, Barcelona are reportedly in talks with the Spanish Football Federation to prevent the central midfielder – who’s played 64 matches in all competitions in 12 months – from participating. All of this sums up just how important he has become for his club and his nation.
There is no doubt Pedri will be a name that football fans will be hearing plenty of in the near future and, despite rumours linking him with a move to Liverpool, you can expect him to stick around Barcelona for some time to come.
Stranger things have happened in football but considering the player’s quality, his potential, as well as his moniker as “the new Iniesta”, it is almost written in the stars for him to become a first-team star at his current club. The future is certainly bright for this talented young player and he is going to dazzle football fans at the Nou Camp for years to come.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992