Messi + Ronaldo = Pedri. Barcelona and Spain star plays more than both combined in breakthrough summer


Spain are just one win away from their first Olympic football gold medal since 1992, and for one of their star players it has been the busiest of busy summers.

A single extra-time goal from Marco Asensio was enough to see Spain’s under-23 side through to the gold medal match, at the expense of hosts Japan, and set up a heavyweight final against Brazil in Yokohama on Saturday.

With just one game of a gruelling summer schedule remaining, this no doubt comes as a blessed relief to Spain midfielder Pedri, who has started every single game for his country at the Olympics.

The 18-year-old Barcelona star is playing his second major international tournament of the summer, having also featured in every game for Spain at Euro 2020 — missing just one minute of action.

Indeed, Pedri has now clocked up a total 1,068 minutes of competitive international football split across the Euros and the Olympics and is set to surpass 5,000 minutes of football across 2020-21 if he starts the gold medal match.

In starting against Egypt in Spain’s opening group stage game at Tokyo 2020, the youngster was making his 66th appearance of a seemingly never-ending 2020-21 season.

By way of comparison, during this ongoing summer of international football, Lionel Messi played 630 minutes for Argentina on their way to winning the 2021 Copa America, while Cristiano Ronaldo played 360 minutes for Portugal at Euro 2020.

Pedri has already played more minutes than both Messi and Ronaldo combined (990), and he still has one game left to go.

Euro 2020

Pedri played 629 minutes across six games at Euro 2020, with the only “rest” granted by coach Luis Enrique being the 60 relaxing seconds he sat on the bench after being subbed off in the 119th-minute of Spain’s penalty-shootout win over Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

During the tournament, Pedri became both the youngest player ever to represent Spain at the finals of a European Championship (18 years, 201 days — breaking a record set by Miguel Tendillo some 40 years previous) and the youngest player ever to represent Spain in the knockout rounds of a European Championship (18 years and 215 days).

La Roja were eventually eliminated on penalties in the semifinals by eventual winners Italy, though Pedri’s immense impact during this game and over the course of the tournament as a whole saw him voted Euro 2020 Young Player of the Tournament.

He was also the only Spanish player to be included in the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament, having excelled in a number of key statistical metrics (a overall tournament pass completion rate of 92% being among the most impressive).

Olympic Games

Just 16 days after playing all 120 minutes of Spain’s final game at Euro 2020, Pedri donned the red shirt once again to play the full 90 minutes in their Olympics 2020 group-stage opener against Egypt.

He then played the full 90 minutes of Spain’s second group game too (a 1-0 win over Australia), before finally being given 17 minutes of rest at the tail end of their third and final group-stage tie against Argentina.

After recuperating sufficiently, Pedri returned to the starting lineup and played 102 minutes in Spain’s extra-time victory over Ivory Coast, and then started against over Japan, racking up another 83-minute shift.

That’s 439 minutes spread out over five appearances at the games so far.

Thus, some 310 days after his season first started, Pedri is now gearing up for the 71st and last game of a truly punishing campaign as Spain prepare to go up against Brazil in the Olympic football gold medal match this weekend.

Barcelona

All this comes after Pedri made 52 appearances in all competitions in a breakthrough season for Barcelona, starting 40 times.

This represents 3,526 minutes, add in his U21 appearances plus 213 minutes in World Cup qualifiers in March, and his total rises to an truly astonishing 4,975 minutes with one game to go.

Little did he know that when his preseason training began back in August 2020, he’d still be plugging away almost a whole calendar year later.

Pedri also became the second-youngest player in Barca history to make 50 competitive appearances for the Catalan club during the 2020-21 season when he featured against Atletico Madrid in May — a record only bettered by Bojan Krkic, who was 18 years and 3 days when he reached his half-century.

The fact that Pedri managed to churn out his first 50 games for the club in the space of one season makes it all the more impressive.

Indeed, only two Barca players have passed that particular milestone since the 2013-14 campaign, namely Arturo Vidal (53 games 2018-19) and Ivan Rakitic (51 games in 2014-15).

Barcelona start their LaLiga campaign in just 10 days’ time. But does Pedri need any time off before returning to club football?

“I’m trying to enjoy football and my legs feel well,” Pedri told CatRadio. “A holiday? I’ll do what Barca tell me to do.”





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