Football News

Luis Enrique: Why “unique” Pedri is better than Andres Iniesta was at 18

By Ben Green

Published: 15:25, 7 July 2021

Spain manager Luis Enrique has lavished praise on Pedri after the nation’s exit from Euro 2020 to Italy at Wembley earlier this week.

La Roja came up short in a penalty shoot-out with Italy for a place in the final, but it was not for the want of trying on 18-year-old Pedri’s part, who has taken the tournament by storm, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the nation’s six games — and extra-time bar one minute against Switzerland.

The teenager has completed more final third passes than any other player at the tournament (177), highlighting his forward-thinking approach, while all 55 of his passes in the match against Italy during normal time reached their target, making him a standout candidate for the ‘Young Player of the Tournament’.

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Following his recent showing against Roberto Mancini’s men, his manager, Enrique, further endorsed his burgeoning talents, believing the Barcelona midfielder is demonstrating a level that not even Andres Iniesta was exhibiting during his formative years at the Camp Nou.

Enrique said: “It’s unique what Pedri has done. People have not seen anything like this before, never. Andres Iniesta was not like this at 18-years-old.

“We have another 18-year-old in Ansu Fati to come back too. We have to look after these young players.”

Cesc Fabregas: What I like is the confidence that he has got

Enrique will have to join the queue of Spaniards heaping praise on the nation’s up-and-coming talent, with former prodigy Cesc Fabregas equally in awe of Pedri’s performances this summer, identifying his “confidence” as a key trait in his progression.

“He started a little slowly but like the team he is growing into a tournament,” Fabregas told talkSPORT.

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“He played a fantastic season for Barcelona. He is only 18, we cannot forget that. He is a special talent and I think he will be a special talent in the near future

“What I like is the confidence that he has got. He was always asking for the ball. Okay, sometimes he can be better, sometimes he can make other decisions but I believe that he is showing always for the ball.

“In difficult moments he is there to be available and this is what I like. It is his personality.”

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