SPORT sat down with Barça’s latest young prodigy, who could be on his way to be the permanent part of the first-team picture at Barça next season. Pedri is calm ahead of the challenge at Camp Nou and is focused on doing everything he can to prove that he is more than just a prospect.
Will preseason with the Barça first team be a test to see whether you’re ready to make the step up?
I want to get there and impress. I’ll do everything possible to stay here. If it was up to me, we’d start training tomorrow morning. My dream is to succeed at Barça and I want to say: ‘Here I am. I want to play for Barça – and not just during the preseason.’ I’ll work as hard as anyone else but remain grounded at the same time. I know I must be true to myself.
Aside from belief and desire, what else can Pedri bring to Barça?
I believe I will fit in well at Barça because I like how they play. I’m known for taking on my marker and unbalancing oppositions, which in turn creates more space (for my teammates).
What’s the trick to succeeding at Barça?
Without any doubt it’s my dream and, for that, I need to work hard. From a young age I was taught that with hard work, everything was possible. I’ll give my all and what happens after that, happens.
And what happens if you have to go out on loan? There’s been talk of Borrusia Mönchengladbach or even FC Bayern Munich being interested…
The priority is to play. There have been some very interesting proposals from Bundesliga sides, who are insisting they want to take me (on loan). Barça knows about this. Those clubs believe I could be an important part of their team and gain experience.
There’s also talk you could play in the Segunda if Barça B is promoted.
I hope that Barça B goes up because a year in the Segunda is good for your development as a youngster, just like I did this year with Las Palmas. But what I want is to play and succeed at Barça and if the club doesn’t feel I’m ready, the best option is to go out on loan.
Have you imagined yourself playing in a Clásico?
You enjoy playing in every match but a Clásico, a match the whole world watches, has to be the greatest thing ever.
Are you central midfielder, winger, or something just behind the striker? Where do you enjoy playing the most?
I’ll play where the coach tells me to. The most important thing is to play but I have to admit that playing more centrally is where I feel the most comfortable.
Some say that nowadays you need to have certain physical attributes to play in that position.
Look at the Spain national team from the World Cup in South Africa. The ‘little guys’ won by playing with the ball on the ground and didn’t have this physical element. Look at how great they were.
Speaking of ‘little guys’: Riqui Puig, Pedri, Ansu Fati… Does it worry you that Barça fans are so excited by young stars and a possible revolution in the team?
It doesn’t worry me at all. It’s the opposite. I think it’s nice that the fans are excited by young players who are desperate to prove themselves to the world. I’m sure those youngsters are going to respond. You see Riqui play, Ansu, and they are spectacular – you’ve seen it this season. They have so much quality and it would be incredible to develop at Barça alongside them.
In what areas does Pedri need to improve at?
Everything. I’ve got a lot of football ahead of me – I hope – so I still have an incredible amount of things to learn. What I’m focusing on most at the minute is my end product. On many occasions, I search for that final killer pass and end up losing the ball instead and the move breaks down. And although I said the physical side isn’t everything, at the same time I need to improve in that area to win more battles.
You’ve said that Iniesta is one of your idols. Are there any more players you look up to?
I’ve always admired Iniesta and now I do the same with Frenkie de Jong. I love how he plays and I can’t wait to meet him and Busquets. Sergio is very smart and is always in the right position.
I’m sure you’ll watch Barça-Nápoles. How do you see the team doing in the Champions League?
Whilst the results haven’t always shown it, but Barça has the best players and for me are still the favorites to win the Champions League. I’m sure they’ll give a good account of themselves.
The final question. Sometimes it feels like you, the person, and your ‘explosion’ as a footballer, are two different people.
Sometimes I stop myself and think that everything is happening so fast. But at the end of the day, it’s only football. It’s coming to the pitch and enjoying yourself with friends.