Let's take a look at Barcelons's new golden boy, Pedri Lopez.
Nov. 8, 2020, 7:38 p.m.
As expected by many, FC Barcelona are having a rough start to the 20/21 season. With only three victories in their first seven games in La Liga and Leo Messi’s disastrous form in front of the goal, things are not looking good for the Catalan club. Nevertheless, even in these dark times, a silver lining in the form of their two teenage wingers, Ansu Fati and Pedri Lopez have been a cause of much excitement for Cules. While Ansu Fati has taken most of the spotlight, fans who have been tuning in for all Barcelona games this season know that Pedri has been just as scintillating, if not better. In this article, we will be taking a look at the young career of Pedri and the reasons behind his success in Barcelona so far.
Pedri was born in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and played there as a child for the youth academy of CF Juventud Laguna. Pedri’s talent distinguished him from the rest at the academy. Everyone who watched him knew from the get-go that this kid was special. The scouts from Las Palmas, a club currently playing in La Liga 2, saw the spark in him and signed him on a four-year deal at the age of 16.
Soon after, he made his debut in the second division of La Liga, becoming the seventh youngest player to score in the league in the process. He ended the season with 4 goals and 6 assists in 36 matches played. His consistent performances grabbed eyeballs from all over Spain including those of Barcelona scouts. One thing led to another and a 17-year old kid from the Canary Islands found himself signing a five-year-long deal for one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
The most important aspect of Pedri’s game is his versatility. Although his natural position is as an attacking midfielder, he is just as great playing on the wings. It is this aspect of his game that has made him Koeman’s choice over Riqui Puig. Pedri has everything a winger requires to succeed. His small frame and balance make him adept at dribbling while his passing is special as well. His quick decision making allows him to be involved both on counters as well as possession-based link up plays, making him a lethal offensive weapon.
Apart from his attacking prowess, Pedri’s effort on the defensive end is commendable too. He presses like a maniac for the entire duration of games, making the job of the full-back considerably easier.
When he is not running at the opposition defenses, Pedri can provide for others as well. He has a knack for finding spaces between lines and he sees passes that an average player doesn’t. In the writer’s personal opinion, this is that one quality which separates him from others of his age group, because that feel for the game is very rare to find in someone who still hasn’t celebrated his 18th birthday.
The holes in Pedri’s game are consistent with his age. His productivity in front of the goal is poor which reflects in his statistics. He doesn’t have that goalscorer’s mindset yet and rarely finds himself in scoring positions. When he is in those positions, his shooting is not up to the mark. According to advanced statistics, his shot quality allows him to have a poor 27 percent chance of scoring from a shot on target.
Apart from this, Pedri easily gets physically dominated because of his lean stature which prevents him from using his dribbling skills to their full potential and allows players to easily get past him.
These issues are expected from young players. We have seen players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Raheem Sterling and more recently Vinicius Junior go through similar problems. The truly elite manage to enhance their productivity and develop their bodies to cope up with professional football. Pedri till now has only shown signs that he is willing to learn, improve and truly become one of the best in the world.
What Pedri has shown in the last few games is not a fluke. This is just who he is. A confident youngster who is not afraid to take on the big names in football. His ceiling right now has no limits, with the talent at his disposal, he can be whatever he wants to be from here on. Barcelona have a gem on their hands and maybe, just maybe, the post-Messi future for the Blaugranas is not so dark after all.