Barcelona midfielder Pedri has revealed that manager Xavi Hernandez has demanded he attacks more and scores more goals after the club legend replaced Ronald Koeman as first-team coach.
Pedri opened his La Liga account for the 2021-22 campaign in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium last time out, and he told a news conference that he wants to add more goals to his game.
“Since last season, I always thought that I need to get into the area much more. All of my coaches have said that to me and that’s what I’m working on,” he said. “Xavi demands that of me as well. He says you can pick up a rebound and score a goal. So, it’s something that I want to improve. The results are two goals in a very short time so I’m going to keep working on it.”
Pedri’s strike against Espanyol came after just 74 seconds, making it the fastest goal scored in the Catalan derby this century, according to Opta. The teenager’s only goal this season came against Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey.
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Pedri Tells Fans To Get Excited
Barcelona’s next fixture is a Europa League play-off tie with Serie A side Napoli at the Camp Nou on Thursday, February 17. Europe’s second-tier competition may lack the glamor of the Champions League, but Pedri also told reporters that fans should back the team against Napoli.
“I think that people need to be excited. We are young players, we are trying to do the best we can, we are Barca, we still go out to win,” he said. “Yes, we’re playing in the Europa League but we’ll go out there and try to win.”
The Catalan giants are favorites to win the Europa League but face a tricky tie against Napoli. Luciano Spalletti’s side are fighting for the Serie A title and sit just two points off leaders AC Milan after 25 games.
Pedri’s Missing Messi
Pedri was also asked about Lionel Messi ahead of the match against Napoli. The two players enjoyed a good relationship during Pedri’s debut season at the Camp Nou, and the teenager admits he’s missing the Argentina international.
“It’s true Leo brought a lot to the team and I enjoyed playing alongside him. But the reality is he’s not here now. We have a good squad, we have various players on the pitch who understand each other well,” he explained. “I think we can make good realationships like we had with Leo. Yes I am missing him because he’s the best player in the world but we have to work with what we’ve got.”
Barcelona will need their key players to step up against Napoli if the team are to progress and that includes Pedri. The midfielder only turned 19 in November but is already a crucial presence in midfield for the Catalan giants.