Playing in the El Clasico is a dream for any young Barcelona fan. For 17-year-old wonderkid Pedri, it will be a chance to put one over the club who rejected him two years ago.
The highly-rated attacker netted his first Barcelona goal in their Champions League win over Ferencvaros in midweek and is expected to be the Catalans’ secret weapon ahead of their blockbuster derby clash at the weekend.
Though things could have turned out very differently for the teenager, who turned up at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground in February 2018 for a trial in the middle of a snowstorm.
The poor weather conditions meant that Madrid had to close their training ground, even for the first team ahead of an important Champions League knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain the following week.
When Pedri finally got his chance to play in front of the Los Blancos coaches, the pitch conditions were poor due to the snow and the then-15-year-old was given the cold shoulder.
Speaking about his Real Madrid audition, Pedri told AS earlier this year: ‘I went there for a trial. I was there for a week, but they told me to keep working, that I wasn’t the kind of player they were looking for.’
If he ends up finding the net in El Clasico this Saturday afternoon, the Real Madrid hierarchy may end up regretting that decision.
The Madrid rejection only spurred the teenager from the Canary Islands on to great things.
A year later, the midfielder was promoted from the Las Palmas youth academy into the first team by manager Pepe Mel, who used to coach West Brom.
Just a fortnight after making his professional debut in the Spanish second tier, Barcelona had seen enough. A £4.5million transfer was agreed in September 2019 which would see the player move to the Nou Camp the following summer.
It felt like a move long in the making. Pedri’s father used to show him footage of ex-Barcelona man Michael Laudrup and encouraged him to copy his movements and passing during his development.
Yet despite the pressure from his father, the young midfielder has identified another Barcelona legend as his personal muse.
He told Spanish news outlet EFE last year: ‘I have that Barca DNA. My desire is to resemble Andres Iniesta.
‘I have always said he is my idol and he’ll remain that until I die.’
Just like at Las Palmas, the 17-year-old has been fast-tracked straight into Ronald Koeman’s first-team set-up since joining the Catalans in July.
Pedri has appeared in every single Barcelona league match so far this season, making his first start for the club in the 1-0 defeat by Getafe last weekend.
And the youngster’s goal was very Iniesta-like, a first-time snapshot from inside the penalty area which opposition goalkeeper Denes Dibusz failed to keep out.
The Hungarian side could be slightly forgiven for not taking Pedri seriously pre-match as the youngster turned up to the Nou Camp on Tuesday night with his kit in a plastic bag from a local supermarket.
After scoring in Europe’s premier club competition, Pedri then had to order a taxi to take him home as he is not old enough to gain his Spanish driving licence.
Given the small transfer price paid by Barcelona to acquire him last year, it is the attacking signing that the Catalans needed after years of financial mismanagement in the market.
Forward players such as Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann have all moved to Barcelona for extortionate fees which have not been paid back yet on the pitch.
If 17-year-old Pedri can join the likes of childhood heroes Laudrup and Iniesta in helping Barcelona to victory over Real Madrid this weekend, then Barcelona will feel they have the bargain of the season.