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Barcelona need Pedri now more than ever

The midfielder is not expected back from injury until 2022

FC Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

In light of their relegation to the Europa League on Wednesday night following a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona’s hopes of winning a trophy this season are beginning to fade more and more by the day.

Xavi Hernandez’s side are currently seventh in La Liga, 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid and the Catalan giants are in desperate need of a saviour in the absence of Lionel Messi.

Despite their struggles however, hope remains as the side’s youngsters hope to clean up the mistakes of some of their senior teammates, whose best days are behind them.

Seventeen-year-old Gavi, alongside 19-year-old Nico González and Abde Ezzalzouli are three young prospects who have enjoyed plenty of game time under Xavi. But it is Tenerife-born footballing prodigy, Pedri, who Barça need more than ever in these arduous times.

Side-lined with a thigh injury for the foreseeable future, the youngster is eyeing up a return to action in early 2022.

Here’s why Pedri will shine bright for the Catalan giants in 2022…

The Kopa Trophy factor

FBL-AWARD-BALLON D’OR-2021 Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

For the most part, FC Barcelona did relatively well at the recent Ballon d’Or ceremony, with Barca Femeni captain, Alexia Putellas, taking home the Women’s Golden Ball, ahead of team-mate Jenni Hermoso. Former Barça superstar Lionel Messi also won the award in the men’s category.

However, it was Pedri, with his heart-warming global warming message, who took home the Kopa Trophy for best young player.

Following in the footsteps of Kylian Mbappe and Matthijs de Ligt, a fresh-faced Pedri stepped up to accept his award off Fabio Cannavaro, winner of the Ballon d’Or back in 2006.

Meanwhile, a proud-looking Messi watched on with a big smile on his face and it has since been revealed the GOAT did indeed vote for his former team-mate.

If the world’s eyes weren’t already eagerly awaiting the youngster’s return to the action, Pedri winning this award will make sure to keep the blaugrana side in the limelight.

He will add the award to a trophy cabinet that already includes an Olympic silver medal, an appearance in the Best XI at Euro 2020 and the Golden Boy trophy; all in his debut season at Barça.

An unmatched work-rate

SL Benfica v FC Barcelona: Group E - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Pedri’s biggest weakness will be his availability. The 19-year-old made an outstanding 73 appearances last season for club and country but he has since missed the majority of this season due to injury.

Barça coach Xavi’s name is etched in history forever for his standout performances that saw Spain win Euro 2012, their third international trophy in four years. Now, in 2021, Pedri makes most football fans reminisce over Xavi from 10 years prior.

Despite only winning silver, Pedri was named Best Young Player at Euro 2020 after covering more ground than any other player in the competition, clocking a total of 61.5km.

He also completed more final third passes than any other player at 177, as well as attempting a total of 55 passes alone in the semi-final against Italy, registering a pass completion rate of 100%.

His creativity in midfield and his partnership with Lionel Messi last season gave the blaugranes hope following a poor start to the 2020/21 season.

Having drawn comparisons from many with both Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Pedri’s exploits in his debut season means he will be one of the first names on the teamsheet as soon as he is recovered.

€1 billion release clause club

Pedri Renew With FC Barcelona Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

FC Barcelona have long made a name for themselves as a team with a philosophy that stems from their renowned La Masia academy. Their youth system is the most famous in world football, with some of the side’s most famous names graduating from there.

In recent years, its draw has diminished as the side has imported more and more players from other clubs.

However, with their lack of financial resources limiting the blaugranes from importing new players from abroad, Xavi will need to place more importance on his youth talents.

Some of the side’s most exciting current youngsters Ansu Fati, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez and Ilias Akhomach all progressed through La Masia, and will look to form a brighter future for the club.

Although not a La Masia graduate, Pedri has established a close bond with the Catalan side, being the frontrunner in signing a new contract with the club that sees him tied to a €1 billion release clause.

It has also since been confirmed that Fati has joined his teammate in signing a new contract with the same release clause, tying him to a future until at least 2027 in Catalonia.

Gavi is also reportedly in contract talks with the Catalans at the moment and could be the next young star to join the €1 billion release clause club.

Amid Barça’s struggles in top flight football, this trio of footballing talent will no doubt prove to be a guiding light for the club in unsettling times as soon as Fati and Pedri are fully fit.

The three have previously been compared to Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, the trio that famously filled the top three spaces at the Ballon d’Or 2010 ceremony.

However, Fati’s unquestionable talent up front along with Gavi’s fearlessness are nothing without Pedri’s creativity in the midfield.

Xavi will undoubtedly be eager for the Tenerife-born prodigy to return to fitness as they hope to make the second half of the season better than the first.