Barcelona transfer news - Why brilliance of Pedri can convince Lionel Messi to stay at Camp Nou
18-year-old playmaker Pedri has quickly struck up an inherent understanding with Lionel Messi, playing a key role in the recent resurgence of Barcelona. Pedri has become an important part of Ronald Koeman's team at the Camp Nou and with Messi's future still up in the air, he could play a crucial role in convincing the 33-year-old to stay.
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates 1-2 with Pedri of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Athletic de Bilbao v FC Barcelona at the Estadio San Mames on January 6, 2021 in Bilbao Spain
Of all the people Barcelona have put forward to convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club beyond the summer, it’s an 18-year-old from the Canary Islands who appears to stand the best chance of getting through. Presidents, coaches and even club legends have all attempted to make Barca’s case to the 33-year-old. Pedri, however, is the one who has changed the discussion.
The 2020/21 campaign has been a difficult one for the Catalans. A tumultuous summer led to a tumultuous season with political and financial peril dominating the agenda at the Camp Nou. Mixed into this is the uncertainty over Messi’s future at Barcelona with the Argentine out of contract in the next six months.
Messi’s disgruntlement was clear in his performances and body language on the pitch. Amid continued links to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, it appeared his days in Blaugrana might soon come to an end. In recent weeks, though, the smile has returned to Messi’s face, the goals to his game, and it’s largely down to Pedri.
A brace in the 4-0 away win over Granada on Saturday lifted Messi’s tally to 11 league goals for the season - seven goals in his last seven appearances. As has become customary over the last decade or so, he now leads La Liga’s Pichichi standings. Nature is healing.
Pedri has been Messi’s partner in crime over this run. The teenager is increasingly the player Messi looks to first when he has the ball. One of Messi’s biggest problems at Barcelona in recent years has been a lack of team-mates around him on the same wavelength. Pedri, however, is tuned into the number 10’s frequency.
Their relationship continues to get stronger with every game they play together. Barcelona’s 3-2 away win over Athletic Club this week, one of their best results of the season, was inspired by the pair, with both players finding the back of the net. The best illustration of their understanding came in the scoring of the second goal, which saw Pedri roll a backheel assist for Messi to convert.
Marca suggest Pedri’s impact at the Camp Nou has been so profound Messi is now reconsidering his future. The teenager has been central to Barcelona’s recent uptick in form, with the Catalans now up to third in the La Liga table, just three points behind Real Madrid, who appeared out of sight just a few weeks ago. For all the hundreds of millions spent on big names in the transfer market, it’s a €5 million addition from Las Palmas that has given Barca their soul back.
Of course, there will be other factors that determine Messi’s future beyond the summer. The outcome of the upcoming Barcelona presidential election will have a big bearing on the Argentine’s thought process. Messi will want to know what the club’s long-term plans are before deciding to stay. Can they match his ambition and provide him with a squad strong enough to deliver on them?
The discourse around Messi’s big decision has always been unorthodox, though. As the highest-paid player in world football, Messi is looking for more than just money. He wants rejuvenation. He wants to feel good about himself again and the relationship with Pedri looks to have given the Argentine both these things.
Messi makes Barcelona demands to stay – Euro Papers
“Pedri is a good player from a more central position between the lines and his connection with Leo [Messi] and the others is very good,” Koeman explained after a particularly impressive display against Real Valladolid before Christmas. “He is playing well, working hard and without the ball is important to our team. It seems he’s comfortable in his game.”
Pedri is the sort of player Barcelona have needed for years, since the departure of Andres Iniesta. He is the player the Catalans thought Philippe Coutinho would be for them, linking the lines of midfield and attack. The teenager is an inherent creator. A facilitator. And right now he is facilitating both the resurgence of Barcelona and the rejuvenation of Messi. At 18 years old. It would be understandable if Messi wants to stick around to find out what Pedri does next.