It is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence to see Pedri’s name on the scoresheet. In the first month of 2023, FC Barcelona’s young midfielder has already netted three goals and three very important ones at that.
The Blaugrana have won their past two LaLiga Santander matches by 1-0 scorelines, against Getafe CF and Girona FC, and it was Pedri netting the only goal of the game on both occasions. This is after he also turned in Barça’s third during their 3-1 triumph over rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, after having tucked away the winning penalty in the semi-final shootout victory over Real Betis.
The Canary Islander had also scored in three other decisive LaLiga Santander victories before the World Cup pause, against Real Valladolid, RC Celta and CA Osasuna, meaning his total tally for the season is already at six goals, five of them in LaLiga Santander. Without Pedri’s goals, FC Barcelona would have eight points fewer than the 47 that they currently have.
Coming into the 2022/23 season, everyone already knew how talented a midfielder Pedri was. As the winner of the 2021 Golden Boy, 2021 Kopa Trophy and Euro 2020 Young Player of the Tournament prizes, the UD Las Palmas youth product was destined to become one of the best midfielders in world football. Able to retain possession and play pinpoint passes, he was an asset to FC Barcelona and already one of the most important players in Xavi’s system.
But, Xavi wanted more. Specifically, he wanted more goals from Pedri. This became clear when Barça won 4-1 at Valencia CF in the second half of the 2021/22 season, with a fierce long-range strike from Pedri ending up in the back of the net, even if it was attributed to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after hitting the striker’s back. Xavi was absolutely delighted. “See? You have to shoot,” he was seen saying to Pedri as he hugged the youngster after the game.
Later, in that game’s post-match press conference, Xavi elaborated further, stating: “We demand these things from Pedri. He has a good shot and he even takes freekicks well. He has to be daring. Since he’s only 19 years old, he can sometimes be shy, but few have the ability that he has. He is not a normal player. His talent is superlative, as there are few in the world like him.”
In 2022/23, it seems that Pedri has taken Xavi’s advice seriously, as he is shooting more and from even better positions. He is now averaging almost one shot per game this LaLiga Santander season, at 0.99 shots per 90 minutes, and the goals are following, as his tally of six goals for 2022/23 is already the best of any season in his young career.
Pedri is also getting into the penalty area more and more, which is what led to his goal against Girona FC in Saturday’s Catalan derby. In the absence of the suspended Robert Lewandowski, it was Pedri who was lurking in the six-yard box like a No.9. The goal was one of the easier finishes the midfielder will have in his career, but he scored it because he put himself in the position to capitalise on the fumble from the opposition goalkeeper.
The fact that Pedri is now adding goals to his game is such welcome news for FC Barcelona, as the 20-year-old is becoming even more dangerous. If he was already considered one of the best young midfielders in the world, if not the best, the fact he can now score decisive goals means the sky really is the limit.