Who needs rest?! Pedri joins in Barcelona training just five DAYS after winning Olympic silver with Spain in Tokyo – and could START LaLiga opener this weekend despite having barely a week off and playing 73 games last season
- Spain midfield sensation Pedri has played 73 times since the start of last season
- The irrepressible 18-year-old has headed to Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games
- LaLiga rookie Pedri has now returned to Barcelona training after a five-day break
- Despite his demanding schedule, Pedri has said he will ‘do what Barca tells me’
- The LaLiga giants need Pedri more than ever after losing his hero, Lionel Messi
- Find out the latest Tokyo Olympic news including schedule, medal table and results right here
Barcelona sensation Pedri has been back in the running at the club’s training ground ahead of the new LaLiga campaign on Sunday – just five days after his punishing schedule last season came to a close at the Olympic Games.
The 18-year-old had to settle for a silver medal as Spain suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the final in Tokyo, adding even more minutes to the youngster’s count in an exhausting year after the showdown went to extra time.
Pedri played 4,996 minutes last season, turning out 73 times for club and country in his first term for Barca, and there was little time for the midfield maestro to reflect on his marathon of games in the aftermath of his nation’s defeat.
Pedri’s bosses will be keen to find the right balance after a gruelling debut season for the star
The 18-year-old sensation was a mainstay for Barcelona as part of a 73-appearance campaign
Just five days later, he has been pictured going through his paces with his club while the squad comes to terms with the seismic departure of its talisman, all-time Barca record scorer Lionel Messi.
The shock exit of Messi to Paris Saint-Germain will put more pressure to perform constantly on the likes of Pedri, whose future could be as bright as the striker he will no longer see ahead of him on the pitch.
Such is the maturity of Pedri’s precocious talent that he was considered a mainstay by Blaugranes boss Ronald Koeman in his maiden season, as well as becoming a key figure in Spain manager Luis Enrique’s starting lineup.
Since winning his first cap last August – almost exactly a year after his professional bow as a 16-year-old for Las Palmas – Pedri has played 10 times for La Roja.
The dependable dynamo figured in all but one minute of Spain’s patchy Euro 2020 adventure, earning the consolation of being named the Young Player of the Tournament after their exit to winners Italy in the semi-finals.
Just five days after the Olympic men’s football final, Pedri was back at Barcelona for training
Asked by Catalunya Radio recently whether he is worried about burnout, Pedri replied: ‘I try to enjoy it.
‘My legs are good enough. Holidays? I’ll do what Barca tells me.’
Shorn of their superstar and buckling under widely-publicised financial problems, Barcelona will be relieved to hear Pedri articulate his willing attitude.
Koeman will be wary of the risk of injuries after losing record-breaker Ansu Fati for nine months just when the 18-year-old was beginning to look like one of the world’s most formidable strikers.
Despite a heartbreaking end, Pedri emerged as an ever-present gem for Spain at Euro 2020
The youngest ever scorer in El Clasico had also been making his mark for Spain, but has only just returned to training alongside the likes of Pedri after knee surgery.
Barcelona are desperate not to lose any more of their leading lights to long lay-offs, although Koeman will be sorely tempted to use Pedri again on Sunday.
By his extraordinarily durable standards, Pedri will have had a relatively luxurious pause of eight days between games by the time Real Sociedad visit the Camp Nou.
That will be the first of three games in two weeks in LaLiga, followed by a potential run of three matches in seven days for Spain at the start of September.
The Euro 2020 Young Player of the Tournament has hailed his former teammate, Lionel Messi
Whatever he achieves this season, Pedri clearly feels he will owe some of it to one of the most influential presences in his senior career so far.
‘Of all the experiences I have had in the last year, playing alongside him has been one of the most incredible,’ he admitted after icon Messi’s departure.
‘I have had the opportunity and pride of learning every day from the best footballer and meeting a great person.
‘Leo, I keep what we shared during this year together. Enjoy this new stage and thank you for everything.’
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