Barcelona confirmed first-team squad numbers for youngsters Francisco Trincao, Carles Alena, and Pedri on Saturday.
Trincao arrived in the summer from Portuguese side Braga and will wear the No. 17 shirt. The forward takes over from Antoine Griezmann who has switched to the No. 7.
Fellow new arrival Pedri will wear the No. 16 at the Camp Nou next season, while Alena has has been handed the No. 6:
The decision to hand Pedri a first-team number suggests the 17-year-old will be spending the campaign with Barcelona. The teenager has attracted interest from clubs across Europe but has said his priority is to stay at the club.
Yet Pedri does face a real battle for game time in a top-heavy squad. The attacking midfielder will have to compete with heavyweights such as Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Ansu Fati for a spot in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI.
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Koeman Warns Barcelona Youngsters
Koeman has already handed the club’s youngsters a warning that they need to be playing regularly in order to develop. He spoke about the situation after Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Elche in their final pre-season friendly.
“I was speaking with Riqui Puig yesterday. For me, the young players have to play. They can’t not play. That’s for Riqui, for Aleña, for Pedri… they have to play. I told Riqui that he has a future here but it’s going to be tough at the moment because of competition in his position. I recommended that he goes on loan. At 20, the young players need to play.”
Pedri has featured in all three of Barcelona’s pre-season friendlies ahead of the new campaign. He started Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Nastic and came on as a substitute against Girona and Elche.
Alena spent the second half of last season on loan at Real Betis, making 19 appearances in all competitions for the club, but will be hoping he can make an impact back at Barcelona in 2020-21.
Meanwhile, Barca will have high hopes Trincao can shine. The 21-year-old enjoyed a fine 2020 with Braga before his move and will compete with Fati and Ousmane Dembele for a place in Koeman’s starting XI.
Pedri Keen To Make Debut
After being handed a shirt number Pedri will now be hoping to make his La Liga debut on Sunday when Barcelona play their first game of the season against Villarreal. The teenager has already spoken about his desire to play in the first team for the first time.
“My main objective is to debut, first of all. I haven’t done that yet, and I’m looking forward to it. I have to improve and work hard to do that. Whatever my debut is, I will always remember it. It will be the most special day of my life, because I’ve always dreamed of that.”
Pedri will need to grab any first-team chances he gets at the Camp Nou this season but can take inspiration from Fati’s rise at Barcelona. The youngster broke into the side as a virtual unknown last year but went on to play 33 games in all competitions.