The Catalan midfielder Riqui Puig, who had a very good pre-season with Barcelona’s first team, proved that he could claim a place in the first team. But Ernesto Valverde does not necessarily see things that way.
FC Barcelona played five friendly matches this summer. From an accounting point of view, there was a defeat against Chelsea (2-1), followed by two wins against Vissel Kobe (2-0), Arsenal (2-1) and Napoli (2-1, 4-0). We still saw, as was often the case last year, Baugranas lacking inspiration in the final metres, and it was often on individual achievements that the Catalans made differences. Only the second and last game against the Neapolitans was satisfactory. Deficiencies in the offensive animation are even more obvious in the absence of Lionel Messi, who has not yet put on the chequered tunic this summer. Some players have managed to put themselves forward, such as Frenkie de Jong, who is already delighting the Camp Nou, or Carles Pérez, who has shown some great things on the left flank of the Barcelona attack. But if anyone has flown over the team’s meetings, it is Riqui Puig.
Widely used by Ernesto Valverde – with four starts – the 19-year-old midfielder showed a disconcerting ease. His technical skills and extraordinary vision of the game were already well known to everyone, as he regularly shines with the Barça B team, but there were bound to be doubts about his ability to reproduce his performances at the next level. What has impressed Catalonia the most is that he is not afraid to take the game on his own, and does not hesitate to take risks or move forward rather than seek the easy way out. “A player who makes the public stand up,” was reported in the Catalan daily newspaper Sport. Nostalgic for Xavi and Iniesta, many see in him the long-awaited relief of these two men. A generational talent capable of writing the history of the club.
Ernesto Valverde doesn’t want to make him a player on the first team
Many fans and journalists want to see him in A, believing that he no longer has anything to do with the Spanish champions’ subsidiary team, which plays in the third division. “My team is Barça B, there are a lot of people in the middle of the A’s and the opportunities are expensive, but I’ll try to take advantage of them when I get the chance. I’d love to be in the first team, but I’m in no hurry, and Barça is doing very well like that,” he said after the Gamper Trophy. A surprise guest that the tactician may not have counted on at first. So we can ask ourselves a question: why is he still not a member of Ernesto Valverde’s staff?
“He’ll be a player on Team B because we think it’s the best thing. This is an advantage, because he will also be able to play with the first team,” explained the coach, causing teeth to grind on the side of Ciudad Condal. Riqui Puig will therefore have to be satisfied with the third division at least initially, hoping to make up minutes here and there, particularly in the Copa del Rey, with the first team. A license with Team B will allow him to play with both teams, which would not be possible if he were registered as a player on Team A. Vinicius Junior, for example, was registered as a player with Real Madrid’s B team last season, and yet he played a series of matches under Santiago Solari before his injury. It is therefore quite possible, in a utopian world, to see Puig as a regular or at least regular player in Barcelona FC even though he is considered a member of the B team.
A loan under study
It must be said that the places are very expensive in the Barcelona midfield, and Ernesto Valverde’s decision can also be understood: isn’t it better to play regularly with the Bs and hope to be present from time to time with the As than to play very rarely with the As? In the middle of the field, there are up to ten players for three positions: Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong, Arthur, Carles Aleñá, Philippe Coutinho, Rafinha and Riqui Puig. Some of the players on this list are likely to leave the Camp Nou in the coming days, but Puig has many more experienced, experienced and reliable players in front of him.
But one thing is certain, unlike the one who is considered the most promising player in the Catalan club’s ranks at the moment, few players can boast of having Barça’s DNA in this fine list. The possibility of a loan had been considered for a while, and Xavi Hernandez even offered him a stay at Al-Sadd, the Qatari club coached by the legendary midfielder from Barça. However, Puig had refused this proposal. However, Cadena SER is still insisting this Monday: Barça believes that the best solution to continue to grow is a loan in a first-rate team. A possibility that could convince the principal concerned. The club and the player are therefore faced with a serious dilemma: trying to make it to Barça, even if it means failing and spending the season on the bench or packing up temporarily to get more playing time elsewhere? At the age of 19, Puig is already at a turning point in his career…