Pedro González López, better known as ‘Pedri’, is undoubtedly the greatest appearance in the Segunda División this season. Born on 25 November 2002, Pedri was a surprise in his professional debut for Las Palmas this season. He made the starting XI against Huesca in the first match of the season aged only 16.
What started as a promising player soon became a reality. The young midfielder has started in the 26 matches he has been available for this season. He has contributed three goals and four assists so far.
His quick development has translated to his progression in the national team. In less than 12 months he has played in the U17, U18 and U19 Spain national teams. He has missed five games for this reason as the Segunda División doesn’t stop during the international breaks.
His impact in his first three matches was so big that Barcelona announced his signing for the 2020/21 season just after the summer market window closed. Barcelona acted faster than Chelsea and Real Madrid to secure Pedri’s services. Las Palmas financial needs contributed to his price being well below his 30 million euros release clause.
With his future in the air – it’s unknown whether he will play for Barcelona, their B side or anywhere else next season – it’s the perfect moment for a tactical analysis to see where he could fit to continue his development.
Before an in-depth analysis, we will go through a quick overview of his profile. Even if he usually starts as the left winger in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 formation, Pedri has the freedom to roam around the pitch and exchange position with his teammates. He has also played in more central roles, both as a central or attacking midfielder.
Regardless of his position on paper, Pedri perfectly adapts to the free-flowing football his coach Pepe Mel proposes and his influence can’t be limited to a specific role within his tactics. His excellent vision, dynamism, and technical quality make him a very versatile player capable of assuming the playmaker role anywhere in midfield. His heat map from this season shows exactly that:
Pedri has two strengths that make him a fantastic playmaker: intelligence and technique. We will cover how they shape his game in this scout report.
His positioning on the field is excellent. He’s constantly creating passing opportunities and giving solutions to his teammates with support movements to receive the ball in between the lines. Pedri knows how to interpret the timing of the game and the movements of his teammates to position himself in the appropriate places, normally behind the opposition midfielders. Once there, his good body shape and his fantastic technique with both feet allow him to orient the ball correctly to create danger.
He’s very composed when he receives the ball under pressure and his first touch is great. He often advances with fast layoffs, combinations, and one-twos. He’s a very dynamic player, always moving to take advantage of the spaces created by his teammates.
Thanks to his awareness and his fantastic first touch, Pedri usually spots the attackers runs a moment before the defenders. Then he has the technique to assist with perfectly weighted through balls using both feet.
Above we see how Pedri receives with an open body shape, and his first touch leaves him facing the goal. He scans his back while he controls the ball so he spots his teammate run early. Then he assists him with a perfect through ball before the defenders can even press him.
He also uses his excellent technique and ambidexterity to cover the ball very effectively. Pedri always carries the ball with the foot further from the opponent and uses feints and dummies to keep the defender at a distance and create spaces to play quick combinations. When he’s near the box he gets more direct and aggressive in his movements, trying to pass and make runs to receive the ball back in dangerous positions or carry defenders with him and generate spaces for his teammates to play in.
His ability to use both feet in any situation makes him very unpredictable and difficult to mark. This combined with his vision and ability to create spaces make the range of options available for him at any time very high.
When he has spaces to run at the defenders, he’s very intelligent to choose the right moment to pass. He waits for the defenders to leave their mark and press him before assisting a teammate. Above we see how he carries the ball towards the defensive line. The moment the number six leaves his teammate to press him he puts a great ball into the striker’s run with the outside of his foot to put him 1v1 against the goalkeeper.
Again in the same match, Pedri attacks the defensive line, this time from the left flank, and sees the run of his teammate to create another scoring chance. His teammates usually start runs once he receives the ball as they know he can assist from a wide range of positions.
But Pedri’s quality isn’t limited to the final third. When he plays in deeper and more central positions he shows an unlikely calmness for his tender age. He can receive the ball from the defenders and beat the first line of pressure with quick turns or combinations. Above we see him receiving from the centre-back facing his own goal. He then attracts the pressure and turns quickly to pass to the full-back beating the pressure.
He also uses that ability to receive under pressure and turn quickly further up the pitch. In the sequence above he again receives facing his goal, this time in the opposition half. He turns quickly with a great first touch feinting the defender and creates a scoring chance with a through pass.
An aspect of his game that Pedri must improve is his finishing. Even if he gets into good positions in and around the box and knows how to create spaces to shoot thanks to his extensive skillset, the quality of his finishing isn’t at the same level as the rest of his game. Below we see Pedri arriving at a good position at the edge of the box to receive a pass. He then feints a shot with his right foot leaving both defenders behind and shoots with his left foot without opposition, but the shot is weak and the goalkeeper gets it.
Physically he’s still a 17-year-old kid and struggles in duels. However, his agility, coordination, and change of pace combined with his technique and intelligence allow him to avoid challenges and make it past stronger and bigger rivals. This ability to turn and accelerate in tight spaces is increased when he plays in more central positions. There he can feint and go to both sides more effectively. Anyway, he’s not too small (177 cm / 5’8’’) and will surely develop his strength with time.
Defensively he’s more useful pressing than tracking back. He continues his movements when his team losses possession to counter-press and catch the defenders off guard. He achieves a good number of recoveries in the opposition half this way. Once he has to track back he works hard enough but doesn’t have the strength to recover the ball in duels.
Some key stats
Having a look at some stats we can understand the importance Pedri has achieved in Las Palmas:
- 0.29 xG+A/90 and 0.24 G+A/90
- 5.1 dribbles/90 (52.3% successful – highest total in his team with 132)
- 12.6 offensive duels/90 (40.2% successful)
- 0.66 key passes/90 (highest total in his team with 17)
- 4.91 recoveries/90 (64.6% of them in the opposition half)
Aged only 17, Pedri emerged as the most important player in a big club like Las Palmas. His ability to create advantages, maturity and excellent technique make him an ideal midfielder for Barcelona’s style.
His future will depend a lot on how Barcelona B finish their season. If they get promoted to Segunda División, next season Pedri could be moving between them and the first team. The current Barcelona midfield doesn’t seem excessively talented beyond the Busquets-Arthur-De Jong trio. Pedri could make his contribution in the LaLiga in midfield or on the flanks.
Because of his playing style, intelligence and quality, comparisons with Iniesta are unavoidable. Barcelona would be more than happy if Pedri achieved half of what Iniesta achieved. Only time will tell how far his talent can carry him, but being just 17 years old there is reason to dream for Barcelona fans.