How Ronald Koeman fell in love with Pedri

The young midfielder won over the Dutch coach from day one at Barca

| sport

Toni Frieros

Do you know how many players Ronald Koeman has seen train and play, as a player himself and then as a coach? Thousands. But if we asked the coach who has most impressed him, he would most likely answer: Pedri. Yes, the young Barcelona midfielder captivated Koeman from the first day he saw him in action at the Joan Gamper training ground. “He’s impressive,” was the first thing Koeman said to his closed collaborators.

Landing in Barcelona, Koeman knew nothing about Pedri and at 17 the most probable thing was that he was sent out on loan. It was Ramon Planes who told Koeman Pedri’s characteristics. The coach protected and valued him from day one, speaking a lot to him. He showed it by picking him in big games, including the Clasico and Juventus v Barcelona. In the former he struggled but the latter, she shone, one of his best games. He won over Koeman for good there.

The coach likes Pedri’s simple football. When asked if he is reminded of Xavi or Iniesta, Koeman says the same thing. “Yes, but where were Xavi and Iniesta at his age?”.

His humble, discreet personality is valued by Koeman too, and how calm he is. He’s won over the fans on the pitch but Koeman in training. 

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