BARCELONA – Pedro González ‘Pedri’ (Tegueste, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2002) is 17 years old and is already one of the strengths of Luis de la Fuente’s Under 21 Spanish team. It is pure ‘Barça DNA’. It is the great sensation of Ronald Koeman’s new FC Barcelona.
In a broad conversation, Pedri praises the role of Leo Messi’s captaincy, confesses that he is still the number 1 fan of UD Las Palmas and acknowledges that his great challenge is to be himself and make his own career.
Question: How do you live these first months away from home and attracting all the lights?
Reply: At the moment I live it very well. It is a very nice feeling. Even if you are away from the people around you who love you, I’m doing what I like, which is playing soccer, and it gets along well.
Q: At only 17 years old you are already settled in the Under 21. How do you feel within the group?
A: I am very happy to be able to have the award of being here and enjoying the teammates I have, who are magnificent people, and I am happy to be able to contribute everything I can to the national team.
Q: Luis de la Fuente, the Spanish Under 21 coach, highlighted his maturity at the last press conference and dedicated beautiful words to him. How is your relationship with him? What do you ask?
A: From the first day he welcomed me very well, he told me to be me, to do it as I am doing with my club and to be natural. This confidence helps you when you are a new player.
Q: At the same press conference, de la Fuente did not want to compare him with anyone. But it has come to me that his father sees him as similar to Laudrup. Do you see it too?
A: Being compared to players like that is a source of pride, but I have to be Pedri, make my own career. Of course I have noticed Iniesta or Laudrup. You can look at them to learn, but you have to be you and make your career.
Q: His name is already ringing even for the absolute. Does it cross your mind?
A: First I have to be happy to be here, which is already a prize. Hopefully one day I have the opportunity to be in the absolute, which is a dream that every child has.
Q: He was at EFE Agency in February when he was playing for UD Las Palmas, but his signing for FC Barcelona was already public. You said you had ‘Barça DNA’ and you were confident of doing it well, but did you expect this level of prominence and football?
A: When I came I was a player who had just played a season in Segunda, in Las Palmas. I didn’t have much experience like other players and I came to do my best, to try to stay with work and effort. What I’m getting is pride and what I have to do is keep working to get the maximum minutes.
Q: After his match against Juventus, a video of him with his highlights went viral. Did you get to see it or do you evade all that?
A: I do see it, but not that specifically. I always watch the match repeated to see what I fail, especially. I stay more with what I fail than with what I succeed. I think the best thing to improve day by day is that.
Q: One of the points for improvement that he told us in February is looking more at the door. He has two goals this season. Do you still have it in mind?
A: Yes, it is something that I have to improve. Whenever I can, I keep kicking in training; it is something that I have to improve. Also the physical aspect, that I am working on it. All this will be better for the future.
Q: Koeman recently said that the footballer who has surprised him the most in these months has been you. How do you receive these words?
A: From the first day he told me that I had to work on it because it was very difficult to be at Barça and I think I have worked very well, I have shown him that I can be here and he has given me confidence by putting myself in important games. I have to be grateful to him and keep working in order to have minutes.
Q: One of the games in which he gave him confidence was in the classic. What is it like to play your first FC Barcelona-Real Madrid?
A: I was very happy, especially with a lot of desire to play it, it is a dream that every child has since you see it as a little boy on TV. I was lucky to be able to accomplish that and I am very grateful to Koeman and my teammates for making it so easy.
Q: One of those colleagues is now having a hard time, as is Ansu Fati. How have you seen him after confirming your knee injury?
A: When an injury like this happens, you feel sad and I want to send you a lot of support from here because you will soon be back. He has a lot of time and he will recover soon to be at the same level he was, which is very good.
Q: He has always said that his idol is Andrés Iniesta. But he said he was “going to give him something in the dressing room” when he saw Leo Messi. How were those first moments with Messi?
A: As I think it would happen to everyone, a little shocked to see him in person. But when the days go by he is a normal person, like a friend in the locker room. He gets along very well being able to play games and in training sessions learning from the best player in the world.
Q: How is your relationship with Messi being?
A: So far very good. He always gives you advice on the pitch, which is what I think a captain has to do and how I think he is, who knows a lot about what he speaks for everything he has won and has done for football. That Messi gives you advice is a pride and I always try to listen to him and learn from him, which will be very good for me.
Q: A smile is drawn when he talks about Messi. Have you already asked for a shirt to keep as a souvenir at home?
A: No, not yet, but I want to ask for it in the future because I think it is a memory that everyone in this world wants to have.
Q: Returning to your homeland, do you follow the UD Las Palmas games?
A: Yes, whenever I can I watch the games on television and I support them because thanks to Las Palmas I am here. They gave me a lot of confidence and I was able to play in the Second Division, a league that is very difficult and I have to be grateful to them.
Q: The Canarian quarry has always been important in the football scene, but its emergence puts it back on the map. Are you aware of everything you generate on your land?
A: Yes, giving importance to the quarry is the best because there are many players who are there and sometimes they get lost because time passes and they are not given the confidence they need. It is good news, the quarry has a high level.
P: Every three days breaks a record. Live a meteoric progression. What goals do you set for the end of the season?
A: I think of setting goals, nothing. I have to keep enjoying what I do and keep improving. I would not set any objective, just to continue playing the maximum available minutes and contribute everything I can to the team.