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Pedri enhances his credentials with devastating performance to sink the Yellow Submarine

So composed...

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Culers have known for some time now just how important Pedri is for this Barcelona side.

It wasn’t long ago, don’t forget, that he played over 70 games for club and country in the same season, despite still being a teenager.

If that doesn’t tell you anything about his standing, then nothing else will.

Against Villarreal, the youngster provided a vintage performance that was cultured and artistic as well as dynamic and vital.

That he added yet another goal to his personal tally was just the icing on the cake, Barca surging 11 points clear at the top of the league table after their victory at La Ceramica.

Often looked towards to provide the finesse that complements Gavi’s dogged determination, Pedri does know how to mix it too when needed.

A mixture of poor officiating and Villarreal’s propensity to make life difficult for their hosts meant that any chances that came Barca’s way would be few and far between.

Pedri consistently upped the ante in what was an incredibly congested central midfield at times, evidencing an understanding and maturity to his game way beyond his years.

He’s always had that ’special something’ and an innate ability to solve the most difficult puzzles during play.

But since Xavi has taken him and his team-mates under his wing, Pedri has learned to play with more urgency when required - driving at the heart of opposition defences in so doing - as well as scoring in the big moments.

Not to mention that he isn’t too shabby when it comes to defensive duties either. In short, he certainly puts in a shift.

It’s all very well Barca being on top in matches too, but goals win games (not possession stats) and they’ve absolutely become Pedri’s currency in 2022/23.

Of course, the system which Xavi has settled on does suit the way in which the youngster plays. By contrast, it marginalises the likes of Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres.

No point in blaming the coach though - you don’t change a winning team. It’s one of the oldest football cliches in the book.

That said, Barca don’t want to find themselves toiling at the business end of the campaign again, because certain players have been overused to an extent.

Pedri has often come off in games early because he’s absolutely shattered and that should be enough of a warning to Xavi.

When the fixture list allows, Pedri can and must be rested.

To have his excellence diluted because of tiredness would be a crying shame - particularly given how much Barca have come to rely on him just as much as Lewy’s goals or Ronald Araujo’s towering defensive masterclasses.

An essential cog in a well oiled machine.

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