12 months ago, not many people would have heard of a young midfielder from the Canary Islands by the name of Pedri. Just signed from Las Palmas, Barcelona were going to send him out on loan until Ronald Koeman saw him train in the flesh. He’s going nowhere, Koeman said. He’s joining the first team.

And that he did. Pedri quickly became one of Koeman’s most trusted lieutenants, forming a stellar midfield three with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong. The 18-year-old played league 37 games for Barcelona, rested for the final-day dead-rubber – alongside none other than Lionel Messi – because he was going to join up with La Roja for Euro 2020.

Yes, Pedri’s astonishing rise to prominence included a call-up to Luis Enrique’s squad for this summer’s European Championship. The Asturian saw in Pedri what Koeman did, playing him in every single minute bar one of Spain’s run to the semi-final; he was taken off before the penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy.

Remarkably, Pedri’s summer isn’t over and done with. He’s currently in Tokyo, representing Spain in the Olympic Games, and looking rather tired while doing so. The phenom has an incredibly bright future ahead of him, but those in charge of him need to protect him and not burn him out.

This article first appeared on Football Espana and was syndicated with permission.

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