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Pedri has to be wrapped in cotton wool by Barcelona now

After an 11-month season, the young man seriously needs a break

Spain v Argentina - Men’s Football - Group C - Olympics - Day 5 Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

When was the last time you heard of an 18-year-old in their breakout campaign play an 11-month season?!

It’s true that Pedri has surpassed all expectations for Barcelona and for Spain, but the Catalans really need to wrap him up in cotton wool now.

By the time he plays on Sunday against Brazil in the Olympic final, there will be just two weeks left until the start of the new La Liga season.

The youngster, because of his exertions, deserves at least a month off.

Ronald Koeman has enough strength in depth at this point to be able to allow Pedri to rest sufficiently. To properly recharge his batteries.

Not to have a cursory week or two before coming back into training.

The club needs him at the business end of the season, not right at the start, and there’s little doubt that as soon as he’s ready to go, he’ll be straight back in the side.

He’s proved beyond doubt that he’s the real deal, and will, in time, be as important as the likes of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta were.

But only if he’s allowed to grow at the right pace - which means rest and recuperation now.

After coming so close in the European Championship, it would be a wonderful way for Pedri to bookend the season if he’s able to replicate what Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero did for Argentina back in 2008.

A reward for all of the hard work that he put in across the 2020/21 campaign.

Spain v Portugal - International Friendly Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The expectation on him to deliver next season will have also gone up a notch or two, too.

Supporters need to understand that he might not be able to produce week-in and week-out, and certainly not if he’s fatigued.

With fans back in the stadium, that adds another dynamic that wasn’t there last season and, in hindsight, probably helped in letting players like Pedri just get on and play their natural game.

If the decision was left to the player himself, arguably he’d play every minute of every match given half the chance, but this is where Koeman has to exert his iron first of authority.

Short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Pedri is managed correctly over the course of the next few weeks, Barcelona first and foremost, as well as Spain, will be the beneficiaries come the end of the 2021/22 season.