We are probably still not talking about Pedri enough

Pedri has been Euro 2020's standout young player
Pedri has been Euro 2020's standout young player / Angel Martinez/Getty Images

There is a picture doing the rounds on social media of Luis Enrique standing like a proud parent over a hunched, topless, red-faced Pedri sucking down a bottle of water in the Spain changing room.

It is pretty perfect meme fodder for those wishing to take a pop at an over-reliance on Pedri.

The 18-year-old - who has already played over 60 games this season and will also go to the Olympics - has become an indefatigable Energizer Bunny, running himself into the ground to cover his teammates' shortcomings. He is not just at the heart of Spain's engine room, he is the engine.

Had Euro 2020 happened a year earlier as planned Pedri would have been nowhere near Luis Enrique's squad. In June 2020, he had just completed his first season of senior football at Las Palmas in Spain's Segunda Division.

However now, with the semis and final of Euro 2020 still to play, Pedro Gonzalez Lopez is a strong contender for the tournament's Young Player award having played practically every second of Spain's games.

He is also the heavy favourite for the prestigious Golden Boy - won in the last four years by Kylian Mbappe, Matthjis De Ligt, Joao Felix and Erling Haaland.

Though he may not have a goal or an assist to his name (yet), Pedri has stood out as the box to box, driving force in Spain's midfield, combining tenacity with elegance and gif-able moments of ingenuity with unglamorous grit.

In his Las Palmas days, MARCA once aptly described the youngster as a ‘hurricane’. He is the new Spain that Luis Enrique so badly wants his team to be.

Incredibly, no player has covered more ground (61.5km) at Euro 2020 than the teenager from the Canary Islands.

Only four players, including teammate Jordi Alba, have created more goalscoring chances from open play. And in the quarter finals, Pedri led the way with five key passes - more than any other player.

Though vastly different players, it's not unreasonable to suggest that no teenager has had as big an impact on the European Championships since Wayne Rooney set the group stages alight in 2004.

Pedri was not yet two when Rooney scored four back then, and had yet to turn six when Spain won the Euros in 2008 at the start of their period of dominance.

While some of the current Spain side - especially in the early outings of this tournament - felt like a bad tribute act of the Class of '08, Pedri feels like the real thing.

Pedri has cited Andres Iniesta and Michael Laudrup as his two touchstones, but there is also more than a dash of his boss Luis Enrique's relentless stamina in his make-up.

On Tuesday night at Wembley, the wonderkid will get his biggest test yet up against Marco Verratti and Jorginho - two of the tournament's best performers and a pair of world-class controllers.

Regardless of the final result - and make no mistake Italy are favourites - it would be surprise to no-one if the Barça starlet at least holds his own. That expectation alone is remarkable for a player few (even in Spain) had even heard of this time last year.

Turned down by Tenerife and Real Madrid as a youngster for being too slight, Pedri has proved his point to the doubters and then some with his ability to just keep going. Exactly how boundless his energy stores are may be the difference between Spain's European and Olympic successes this summer.

But pace yourself, it won't be the last you see of him.