Pedri: Spain’s unique wonderkid who is ‘better than Iniesta’

The Barcelona midfielder only turns 20 two days before Spain face Germany in Qatar but has earned rave reviews for club and country

Fernando Kallas
Wednesday 23 November 2022 05:55 GMT
Pedri shone at Euro 2020, with his coach saying he is better than Andres Iniesta was at the same age
Pedri shone at Euro 2020, with his coach saying he is better than Andres Iniesta was at the same age (Getty Images)

Barcelona midfielder Pedri will turn 20 years old two days before Spain face Germany in one of the most anticipated games of the World Cup group stage.

The midfielder could be highly influential against the four-time world champions as both nations are expected to finish in the top two of Group E, the so-called group of death, with Japan and Costa Rica as the underdogs.

Pedri was a key part of Spain’s run to the semi-finals of the European Championship last year and, along with his performances for his club, won both the 2021 Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best player under the age of 21.

“Pedri is a unique player. I have never seen anything like it, not even (Andres) Iniesta at the same age,” Spain manager Luis Enrique said after the Euro 2020 semi-final against eventual champions Italy, having lost in a penalty shootout.

“Have you seen the Euros that Pedri has had? I have not seen any 18-year-old player in any competition do the same.

“How he has performed, how he occupies the spaces, his personality... I have never seen anything like it. It is something out of all logic.”

Luis Enrique has been enamoured with Pedri’s pace, positional intelligence and supreme technical ability, a classic trademark of the famed Barcelona La Masia academy where players like Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi were moulded.

However, Pedri’s time in Barcelona has been relatively short. Born in Tegueste, a small town in Tenerife, in November 2002, Pedri moved from Las Palmas to Barca a little more than two years ago, in July 2020, for five million euros ($4.92 million).

Before having his breakout season in his first year with Barca in 2020-21, he had already become the youngest player to score for Las Palmas in the Spanish second division at 16 years old.

His first season at Barcelona was so outstanding that Pedri played 73 games in all competitions for his club and Spain. Only a few weeks after the Euros, Pedri went to Japan and helped his country to win the Olympic silver medal, losing the final 2-1 in extra time against Brazil.

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