Pedri admits that he would not have rejected Real Madrid had they offered him a contract as a youngster but says he is glad to have chosen Barcelona as it gave him the chance to learn from Lionel Messi.
The 19-year-old landed the Kopa Trophy last month, awarded to the best player under the age of 21, following an incredible rise to prominence over the past year. Pedri made his senior bow for Barcelona in September 2020 and has gone on to make 56 first-team appearances, 52 of those coming last season – the most of any Barça player.
He has also featured 10 times for Spain this year and played a big part in La Roja‘s run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, becoming the youngest player to represent his country at a major tournament and finishing the competition with more passes completed in the final third (177) than any other player. Pedri went on to help Spain claim a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
However, while Pedri is now considered a guaranteed starter for Barcelona when fit, the teenager could easily have ended up a Madrid player had he impressed in a trial.
“When I was 15 years old they called me for a test, but that day there was huge snowfall and it had to be postponed,” Pedri, who has not played since September due to a thigh injury, told Tuttosport. “The next day, I took part in some light training with the academy side. Maybe they already had their idea about me, so I went back to Tenerife. However, I would not have rejected Madrid. Opportunities must be seized, however they come. Let’s just say something happened, a combination of negative circumstances, and they were the ones that didn’t want to sign me.”
Pedri spent time in Las Palmas’ youth academy before arriving at Barcelona in July 2020 on an initial two-year deal that has since been extended to 2026. Though the club is going through a difficult period, Pedri is grateful to have had the chance to play alongside Messi for a season prior to the superstar forward joining Paris Saint-Germain in August.
“Playing with him was a dream. I was three years old when he won the Golden Boy. He will always be a legend for Barca fans, and for me it is an honour to have received his advice,” Pedri added. “What young player would not like advice from someone like him? He congratulated me and told me never to give up. If someone like him tells you that, what can you do at 17? All you can do is obey.”
¡Gracias a los que han hecho esto posible! Familia, amigos, compañeros, entrenadores, clubes, selección… #BallonDor2021 #kopatrophy
Thanks to everyone who has made this possible! Congrats Alexia&Leo. You made history! pic.twitter.com/NFscyrShjF
Pedri, who backed Jude Bellingham and team mates Gavi and Ansu Fati to battle it out for next year’s Kopa Trophy, sees no reason to depart Camp Nou regardless of who comes calling. “With my buyout clause, neither the sheikhs of Paris or Manchester will be able to sign me,” he said. “I’m happy here. I was born in a Barca environment and I have crowned my dream. Let me play here until 2026, as my contract says, and then we will talk.”
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