Rising Spanish star moves closer to gold after overtaking Messi and Ronaldo

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KEY POINTS

  • Pedri generated a lot of buzz this summer
  • Pedri has played more minutes of international football than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined
  • Barca boss Ronald Koeman is not in favor of teenager taking part in Tokyo games

A rising Spanish football star is having a busy but monumental summer in Tokyo.

After enduring intense semi-finals, Spain has finally reached the final and is just one step away from the country’s first Olympic football gold medal since 1992.

Barcelona midfielder Pedri is one of the most notable players in charge of the Spaniards.

Heading into the final against Brazil, Pedri has been very active, having started every game for his country at the prestigious tournament.

Ahead of the Olympics, Pedri also played every game for Spain at the recent Euro 2020, amassing a total of 1,068 minutes of international football through the aforementioned competitions.

What’s even more interesting is that the 18-year-old has now played more minutes on the international stage than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo put together this summer, ESPN reported.

As it stands, Messi played a total of 630 minutes for Argentina in the country’s triumphant 2021 Copa America campaign. Ronaldo, meanwhile, played 360 minutes on the pitch for Portugal in the ‘Euro 2020.

While Pedri’s international football plight already presents a strong case for becoming one of the most memorable stories in the history of the sport, the drama behind his Olympic dreams involving his league club Barcelona certainly adds sparkle to it.

It can be recalled that Barca coach Ronald Koeman was not in favor of the youngster taking part in Tokyo games for fear of exhausting himself before the start of the new La Liga season.

“For a football player, two top competitions in the same summer is too much,” Koeman said. Explain of Pedro’s situation. “Pep Guardiola has said it before and I agree with him. [Pedri] He has played almost every game in the national season and has played just about every minute of the European Championship.

“Taking a four-day break and then flying to Japan to play at the Olympics is not ideal,” the coach continued. “It’s too much. It’s just a personal opinion but, for me, the Olympics are athletics and other sports – but not football. That’s what I think, at least.

“I understand that the players want to play, but we have a busy schedule and we have to protect our players.”

Spain will face Brazil in Yokohama this weekend. Once again, Pedri is expected to feature in Luis de la Fuente’s starting XI.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman in a La Liga game against Sevilla in October 2020. Photo credit: Getty Images / David Ramos



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