• Pedri has been generating quite 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 letting the teenager participate in the Tokyo games

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

After enduring the intense semis, Spain has finally reached the finals and is just one win away from the nation’s first Olympic football gold medal since 1992.

Among the most notable players leading the Spaniards is Barcelona midfielder Pedri.

Heading into the finals clash against Brazil, Pedri has been very active, having started every single match for his country at the prestigious tournament.

Prior to the Olympics, Pedri has also played each and every game for Spain at the recent Euro 2020, amassing a total of 1,068 minutes of international football across the aforementioned competitions.

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

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

While Pedri’s international football spell already presents a strong case to become 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 glitter into it.

It can be recalled that Barca manager Ronald Koeman was not in favor of allowing the youngster to take part in the Tokyo games due to fear of burning out before the new La Liga season begins.

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

“To have a four-day break and then fly to Japan to play in the Olympics is not ideal,” the coach continued. “It's too much. It's just a personal opinion but, for me, the Olympic Games are athletics and other sports – but not football. This is what I think, at least.”

"I understand that the players are keen to play, but we have a tightly-packed schedule and we need to protect our players."

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

Ronald Koeman
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman during a La Liga match against Sevilla in October 2020. Getty Images / David Ramos