La Pedridependencia? Barcelona are about to discover just how important Pedri is to them

Pedri is of incredible importance to Barcelona.

The diminutive teenager is unique in that he can both dominate and decide games in a way few can at the sharp end of the game.

The boy from the Canary Islands is still just 19 but as Barcelona travel to San Sebastian to face Real Sociedad this evening it’s not an exaggeration to assert they’re missing their key man.

And it’s an integral game for La Blaugrana. Should their Basque hosts win they’ll close the gap to Barcelona to just two points, meaning both La Real and Real Betis are within touching distance.

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Because one thing we know for sure is that Barcelona are a different animal without Pedri to what they are with him.

So often this season have Barcelona been playing well but struggling to break down a stubborn opponent. That’s typically been when Pedri would produce a moment of magic, whether a penetrating through ball or a beautifully considered finish.

Without him in the starting lineup, Xavi Hernandez’s men are becoming increasingly reliant on Ousmane Dembele out on the right flank. And while the Frenchman is talented and putting up impressive numbers he isn’t the man to carry the team.

Pedri is. Ever since he broke into Barcelona’s first team at the beginning of the 2020/21 season he’s exuded remarkable maturity and a quiet authority. He isn’t afraid to look for the ball in difficult situations because he backs himself to escape them.

That’s why Ronald Koeman leaned so heavily on him during his time in charge of La Blaugrana and it’s also why Luis Enrique and Luis de la Fuente installed him as the lynchpin of their midfields with La Roja at Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympic Games.

It’s this reliability, paradoxically, that’s proved Pedri’s downfall in many ways. He played so much football within that first 12 month span of making his Barcelona debut that injury kept him out of the first half of the 2021/22 season.

That coincided with a dire run of form from Barcelona, something that was only eased in reality when Pedri returned to the fold at the dawn of the New Year. Now that he’s set to miss the rest of the season we’re going to learn just how much Xavi’s new-look Barcelona depends on this 19-year-old from the Canary Islands.

Because since he suffered his latest injury, against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League last Thursday, Barcelona have looked a shadow of their former selves.

They were knocked out of that competition by their German visitors and followed that up with an insipid 1-0 defeat at home to Cadiz. Xavi will be absolutely determined that his charges set the record straight in the Basque Country later this evening.

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