Future Star Spotlight: Pedri draws Iniesta comparisons as he shines for Barcelona and Spain
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Gregory Caltabanis
1 Yr Ago
Pedri only just turned 18 in November, but the Spanish midfielder has wasted no time emerging as one of football’s most exciting young talents this season. Pedri has played a crucial role in Barcelona’s recent resurgence and has since earned a callup to the senior national team. As comparisons with legendary Spanish midfielder - Andres Iniesta - grow by the day, Pedri will need to drown out the noise and make a name for himself. 
Luis Enrique rewarded Pedri’s good form with a callup in the last international break, handing the young starlet his debut off the bench in last week’s World Cup qualifier against Greece. La Furia Roja inevitably split the points with the visitors, but their lineup spoke volumes of the side they are trying to become. Spain has failed to make it past the Round of 16 in its last three major tournaments and is very much in need of a youth revolution.
Enrique has entrusted a number of young talents since taking over, with Bryan Gil, Ferran Torres, and Dani Olmo all featuring prominently. Pedri is but one of these young stars, looking to lead Spain back to the pinnacle of world football. The Barcelona man has all the qualities to become a permanent fixture in the middle of the park for both club and country, oozing confidence at every level.
Enrique’s confidence in Pedri was clear to see in Spain’s recent UEFA World Cup qualifying win against Georgia on Sunday. Pedri responded with a strong 90-minute performance in a 2-1 victory.
Pedri has since earned comparisons with Iniesta given their similar playing styles. Much like the World Cup winner, Pedri roams freely from the left-hand side of the midfield three and is extremely difficult to dispossess. When Pedri is dribbling in full flight, it is easy to confuse the two. 
“It is clear that Pedri has a lot of potential,” Iniesta said. I think he is in an ideal place to keep growing and keep realizing his ability. What is important is that he stays calm and people let him develop. That is important for him to keep growing, and for sure he has a bright future at Barcelona.”
When Pedri joined Barcelona from his hometown club - Las Palmas - for five million euros, few expected him to make an immediate impact. The Catalan giants got off to a rocky start to the season, but have since turned it around, trailing Atletico Madrid by just four points off the back of a 17-game unbeaten run. 
Pedri has established himself as a regular under Koeman, making 38 appearances in all competitions, and has slotted seamlessly in midfield. The 18-year-old starts from a deeper role but regularly makes his way forward, occupying dangerous positions between the lines. Pedri’s ball retention and positional awareness set him apart from his teenage counterparts, displaying the confidence of a veteran both in and out of possession. The Barca man, however, is just getting started. 
“Pedri and Iniesta are two very different players,” said Enrique. Pedri must be allowed to continue making mistakes. I think what’s important is that Pedri continues to resemble Pedri, which is already good enough to start every game for his club and be called up by the national team ahead of a Euros.” 
As Lionel Messi’s future remains in doubt heading into the summer, Barca have just found a centerpiece to build around, as well as an exciting talent who could potentially convince Messi to stay. Pedri still has a long way to go in his own career before assuming that type of responsibility, but if his first season is anything to go by, the 18-year-old is ready to step up and make a name for himself.
When asked about the ongoing comparisons to Spanish legend, Iniesta, Pedri answered cooly - maintaining his composure much like he does when he takes on defenders. “I have to be Pedri,” he responded. “But it is an honor to be compared to Andres Iniesta.” 
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