Pedri is more than an individual talent.
When you first watch him play, his skill in tight spaces is apparent immediately.
You watch some more, and you notice his composure on the ball and intelligence in decision making.
As months have gone by, we’ve seen penetrating passes, silky combinations, and instinct to create chances for himself in front of goal.
This alone doesn’t make him unique. What stands out is that he’s doing it at such a young age, with consistency, and at one of the biggest clubs in the world at a time of turmoil. His grace under fire has quickly made young Pedri a household name around the world.
One of the best decisions Ronald Koeman has made as manager was giving Pedri an opportunity early on, and then sticking with him. In the beginning, there was no evidence that Pedri was a better choice than Philippe Coutinho, who had an excellent start to the season, or Riqui Puig, another prodigy who was showing great promise.
Koeman saw something early on, and has been rewarded for following his gut and going all in.
Now we’re starting to see why Pedri is beating out the competition, and what it could mean for Barcelona going forward.
Pedri makes his team-mates better. For a center-midfielder, there is no higher praise.
The connection he has with Messi has been developing game by game. Against Athletic, it led Barcelona to victory.
Like Xavi, Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets in the past, Pedri is at the control station, and dictates the rhythm of the game.
His field awareness makes it look like he has eyes in every corner of his head, and as a result he knows which direction to move in, both with and without the ball.
He trusts all of his team-mates. It doesn’t matter who is to his left or right, if it’s the right decision that will produce the best outcome on the field he goes with it.
Over the years at Barcelona it’s been obvious when certain players were favored, and the quality of play on the field suffered because of it.
With Pedri that’s not the case. Watching him is a thing of beauty because he understands the game, and doesn’t let bias get in the way.
Messi isn’t the only player who benefits when Pedri plays.
Ousmane Dembele has been supercharged. Regardless of the side he’s on, the ball is finding him more often in danger areas.
Frenkie de Jong is playing better than we’ve ever seen him. The understanding between him and Pedri in the midfield, instinctively knowing who holds and who goes, has added a potent dynamism to the side.
Up front, Martin Braithwaite and Antoine Griezmann look hungry when Pedri plays, knowing at any moment an opportunity could be served up on a silver platter.
The list goes on, but another area to appreciate is the switch of play. One of Barcelona’s weaknesses is the lack of width. Most of the time, when it exists, it comes from Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest. With Pedri on the field, both sides of the field are an option at any time, neither is favored. When things get crowded, he’s able to quickly make a switch and find one of the fullbacks with space to attack into.
How can you explain Pedri? Someone so young, yet mature and intelligent. So talented, and yet humble as he creates chances for team-mates to shine.
It’s simple. Pedri loves the game and he understands it. His passion and knowledge are at the highest level.
When he steps onto the field he’s playing to win. He didn’t need to fly into a goalpost in order to prove it. But he did it anyway when it was required.
In every moment, big or small, he makes the decision that’s in the best interest of the team. Combine that with talent and you have something very special.
This year, at a time of great uncertainty, he’s something Barcelona can believe in.