“The Olympics are not football” – Why Barcelona tried to block Pedri’s last Spanish selection
The teenager is happy to have the chance to represent his country in Tokyo but his club coach Ronald Koeman worries about the threat of burnout
The Spanish federation raised eyebrows when they named an extremely strong team for the Tokyo Olympics football competition, not least due to the inclusion of Barcelona starlet Pedri.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who won the Young Player of the Tournament award at Euro 2020, could reach an incredible 66 appearances in a 2020-21 marathon campaign for club and country.
It has been an unforgettable year for the Tenerife-born playmaker, who started racing after moving to Camp Nou, forging a deep connection with Lionel Messi and earning his place in Luis Enrique’s Spain squad.
In fact, it seemed like he had done so much at such a high level that he would be considered out of selection for the Olympics, which usually features more raw talent.
And yet, when Olympic coach Luis de la Fuente announced his squad list of 22 players, Pedri led it, along with fellow Euro 2020 participants Unai Simon, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Mikel Oyarzabal and Dani Olmo.
“These players will arrive very motivated, with more experience,” said De La Fuente, acknowledging that some of these players were only there because Spanish law requires clubs to release players for the Olympics.
In addition to the Euro players, Spain will also host Real Madrid duo Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos, as well as Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad, Oscar Mingueza of Barcelona and Carlos Soler of Valencia.
Barcelona tried to resist Spain’s call for Pedri, but RFEF told them to back off. Coach Ronald Koeman also objected to the decision to call him.
âFor a footballer, two high-level competitions in the same summer is too much. Pep Guardiola has said it before and I agree with him, âexplained Koeman.
âHe 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 compete in the Olympics is not ideal. It’s too much.
âIt’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.”
It’s understandable that Spain wants to make an impact in Tokyo.
After a good performance at the Euro, where they were unfortunately beaten by the future Italian winners on penalties in the semi-finals, they would like to bring more joy to a country which remains hard hit by the Coronavirus, in the form of medals Golden. .
However, that doesn’t show much consideration for players who have been playing continuously for over a year, which could have repercussions later in their careers.
If Pedri continues to be as overused as he has been by Barcelona and Spain, there is a chance he will run out before his time, despite his enviable endurance.
Spain – who will face Japan in a friendly before facing Egypt, Australia and Argentina in the group stage – are expected to go far and even win the tournament, due to their team’s strength.
Barcelona can take comfort in the fact that Lionel Messi won gold in 2008 with Argentina at the Olympics, and it didn’t hurt his career.
“Olympic gold in 2008 is the victory that I appreciate the most because it is a tournament that you can only play once in your life and which involves many athletes from different disciplines,” said the # 10 in Esquire.
Barcelona were locked in a battle with Messi over his participation, until new coach Pep Guardiola helped him win this fight.
“Pep was phenomenal with me because nobody wanted me to go to the Olympics with the national team, but I wanted to go,” added Messi. âHe’s the one who gave me permission.
Messi repaid Pep in goals as the team won the treble in the 2008-09 season, and although the Blaugrana are too fragile and fractured to expect anything like this next season, Pedri will be on the less happy with the chance to compete in the Olympics.
“Luis de la Fuente spoke to me before announcing the Olympic Games list,” said Pedri Onda Cero radio. âI love to play football and I will be happy to continue playing.
“However, I understand Barcelona’s point of view because I have played many matches. But I mean to Barcelona that I will arrive well rested.”
The world is at Pedri’s feet right now and he doesn’t want the journey to stop.