Barcelona star Pedri Gonzalez is focusing on improving his fitness ahead of the new season — including ditching his favourite deep-fried food.
The 21-year-old missed 15 games through injury during 2022-23 and says he has been working hard this summer in order to avoid another injury-prone season.
“I have been working on strength, and what the backroom staff from the club tell me is very useful,” he said from the club’s pre-season training camp in Los Angeles ahead of a training session at the LA Memorial Coliseum stadium. “All the physios, fitness coaches push me a bit, but it’s what I need to stay healthy.”
One price Pedri has had to pay to stay fit has been turning down some of his mother’s cooking.
“I am also taking care of what I eat now, my diet. One of the things I can’t eat are my mum’s croquetas!” joked the Spaniard. “Now I also eat more fish, something I didn’t use to do often.”
Pedri is expected to be a key cog in Xavi’s Barcelona.
The manager pushed the club to sign Ilkay Gundogan to help his young star share the responsibility and allow him to manage his playing time in a more structured way.
“It’s unbelievable to see Gundogan shaping his body and turning around with the ball. He just does not waste or lose any possession. I’m sure we’re going to have fun with him,” said Pedri about Barcelona’s star summer signing.
But despite being surrounded by more talented players, the young midfielder knows he needs to improve his own stats.
“There’s a lot I can do better. I think last season I provided too few assists,” Pedri, who only assisted one goal last season, said.
Another target will be to improve his goal record. Xavi has challenged him in that area last season but, partly affected by the injuries, he failed to meet those expectations.
“I had a bet with the manager last season,” Pedri said. “He challenged me to score at least 10 goals. I failed on the mission to be honest, so I accept the challenge again this season.”
Pedri’s first chance to impress ahead of the new campaign will be on Sunday (4.30am CEST), when Barcelona play thier first pre-season game against Juventus in Santa Clara.
Barcelona’s US tour will be a key time for Xavi – he already has plenty of work to do
(Photo: Getty Images)