A year to remember for Pedro

Alongside the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, Pedro shone, and last season he became the first player to score in six different competitions. Over to Simon Peach.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was happy with his side after their 5-1 demolition of city rivals Espanyol at Cornella prior to the winter break, saying his players had passed their hardest test away from home with flying colours.

Barca traditionally struggle in this fixture and were held to a goalless draw at Cornella last season, but there was only one winner this time around.

Pedro and David Villa both scored twice, with Xavi netting the other as Barca served up another breathtaking exhibition of attacking football against an Espanyol side that came into this match with a perfect home record.

Guardiola was particularly pleased with Pedro, who scored Barca's first and third goals and was a threat throughout the match as he switched positions with Lionel Messi in the Catalans' dynamic forward line.

“His performance speaks for itself,” he said. “The solidarity and intensity of all of the players up front is very important and it helps the midfielders a lot. This team doesn't cease to surprise me and that leaves me very relaxed about the future.”

Pedro, too, was happy with his performance, hailing it as the “best match” of his career. “I finished the match being very happy with the win, and how things have came to me,” he said. “In November, I was struggling in front of goal but knew that the goals would eventually come.

“I was always assured that as long as I helped the team, with the help of all my colleagues, I would eventually score again.

“Right now, I'm at my best ever level, and I feel very well in the field, like the rest of the team.”

That is somewhat of an understatement from the 23-year-old, who has punctuated his rapid rise with a hoard of honours. In his first two seasons as a Barca regular, Pedro has won the UEFA Champions League, Spanish Primera Division (twice), Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana (twice), UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Furthermore, he has accrued a World Cup winner's medal for his part during Spain's triumph in South Africa.

Pedro Eliezer Rodriguez Ledesma, to give him his full name, was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1987 and joined the Barcelona youth system from local side CD San Isidro aged 17. From there the winger-cum-forward honed his skills at La Masia, eventually becoming a key player for Barca's reserve team as they achieved promotion from the Tercera Division. Such performances saw him win a first-team debut against Real Murcia in January 2008 and the appointment of former Barca B boss Guardiola at the Nou Camp helm saw him installed as an integral component of the current squad.

Alongside the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, the winger shone, and last season he became the first player to score in six different competitions. The flurry of goals and assists caught the eye of Vincente del Bosque, who handed him an international call-up for Spain's ultimately successful World Cup tilt last summer.

It seems Pedro's midas touch is continuing this season, with Barcelona being hailed in some quarters as the best team ever, something the precocious youngster is enjoying.

“I know that I'm at the best club in the world with the best players, but you hardly have time to digest anything,” he said. “Over time, you are no longer here, or you retire, so I cherish this moment.”

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