Everything you need to know about Barcelona starlet Riqui Puig
Barcelona are renowned for producing fantastic talents from their academy – and Riqui Puig is the latest player to be tipped for a bright future.
Puig found it difficult to break into the first-team under Ernesto Valverde but came off the bench in Quique Setien’s first game in charge at the weekend as Barcelona beat Grenada 1-0.
The 20-year-old caught the eye and was involved in the build-up to Lionel Messi’s winner, and we’ve brought you the lowdown on the highly-rated prospect.
Who is he?
Puig joined Barcelona’s youth system from Jabac Terrassa in 2013 at the age of 13 and is widely regarded as one of La Masia’s most promising talents.
The Spaniard has starred for Barcelona B over the last few years, helping them beat a Chelsea side featuring Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James in the UEFA Youth League final in 2018.
He made his senior debut against Cultural Leonesa in a 4–1 home victory in the Copa Del Rey in December 2018 and went on to make two La Liga appearances last season.
Despite reporting holding talks with Spurs in 2018, Puig decided to sign a three-year professional contact with Barcelona which contains a £89million release clause.
Puig’s father was also a footballer and played as a left-back for Terrassa FC throughout his career.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 5, 2018
Where does he play?
Puig has mainly featured on the left of a midfield three for Barcelona B and has two goals and three assists for the second team this season.
The youngster has already drawn comparisons to Andreas Iniesta, due to his technical skills, passing range and confidence on the ball.
Barcelona currently have plenty of options in midfield, but Carlos Alena’s loan move to Real Betis and Arthur’s struggles with his weight and ill-discipline have given Puig a chance to stake his claim in the first team.
What’s being said?
“Riqui is a great player. All of the youngsters will have their chance,” Quique Setien said after replacing Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona manager.
“Riqui is spectacular,” Gennaro Gattuso said after AC Milan played Barcelona in a pre-season friendly in the summer of 2018. “Even though they [Barca] have players that look like kids, the way they handle the ball amazes me. It’s the beauty of football. It’s like poetry.
“I heard about him a while ago, and about some of the other kids at the club. It’s the kind of thing you can’t really copy and paste. It’s something that takes years to do. It’s how they feel the game.
“So it’s a beautiful thing, but a very tough thing for others to copy. They don’t play with a tactical model, it’s more of a common idea. Needless to say, I am very jealous of the Barca school.”
Former Milan forward and Italy international Daniele Massaro also heaped praised on Puig after that friendly, saying: “He plays with real personality, always with his head up. We could be looking at the new Iniesta.”
🗣 — Iniesta (to Riqui Puig): "Keep playing at Barça B and take advantage of every game you have. If you get to the first team, keep doing the same, take advantage of each game. You have to trust your talent and learn from the ones next to you." pic.twitter.com/lpKkTRYcp6
— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) January 20, 2020