The talent of Riqui Puig has attracted interest from several Spanish and European clubs, who look to complete the transfer or loan of the Barcelona midfielder. However, it’s the Catalans who should make an effort and trust their academy gem.
For some time now, the Barcelona board has been somewhat reluctant to make the step to start releasing the old guard and make way for the younger generations. After more than a decade of triumphant successes, saying goodbye to the legends that have given the club so much is not easy. Therefore, despite most of these being in their thirties and blocking the way for progress, the directives have always seemed to want to postpone the much-needed generational replacement. Every year it has looked like yes, this would finally be the summer in which a complete remodelling of the squad would be seen. But, in the end, the technical secretary has never really taken that bold step forward.
Similarly, for two years the club has also been fairly hesitant to make the step to clear the path for Riqui Puig to the first team. A decision that cannot be taken lightly, of course. Promoting Riqui would not simply imply giving him a senior number, but, mostly, selling other veterans and investing those minutes in the La Masía graduate. Nonetheless, being conservative and unwilling to make strong choices, the board has preferred to respect the statuses in the dressing room than to break the hierarchies for a boy that is just making his first appearances in professional football.
Riqui Puig should be the main signing of the first team | Photo by Imago
Yet promoting and trusting youth demands bravery, which is the opposite to the approach taken by Bartomeu. If these actions continue to be delayed, the teenagers will never get chances, he will not improve inside the desired context, and the club will get stuck and no evolution will take place. With such golden gems at La Masía, though, the directives should not be afraid to count on them. Maybe these will make some mistakes in their first matches, but the long-term and even short-term gains will be much greater than the potential losses. Isn’t Riqui more suited and more capable of making a positive impact at Barça than some of the older midfielders that continue to have minutes almost by decree?
According to SPORT, “it’s raining offers for Riqui Puig”. Everyone is conscious of his potential, but it looks like other clubs value it more than Barça itself. Reportedly, Real Betis, Celta de Vigo, Granada and Ajax, as well as other Premier League and Bundesliga sides, have shown interest in the 20-year-old. Still, Riqui wants to stay and fight for his spot, as has happened in the previous transfer windows. In January, Barcelona advised Puig to leave on loan to continue with his development, but he opted to stay and progress at home. While growing in leaps and bounds under García Pimienta at Barça B, Quique Setién apparently likes the midfielder too, as he expressed since the first day of his presentation. However, the overcrowding in midfield has prevented the Catalan magician from enjoying the chances he deserves.
If the blaugranas want to give Riqui playtime, someone will have to depart. Arturo Vidal and Iván Rakitić are the main candidates to do so. Riqui Puig is undoubtedly ready to make the leap to the first team, and he is bound to succeed at the Camp Nou. Whether or not Barça B achieve promotion to the Second Division, the footballer’s stage with the reserves should come to an end this campaign, as he’s ready for much more. But conviction and determination is needed from the board, and that seems to be lacking as the generational renewal is taking longer than expected.
Official: Barcelona squad list to face UE Cornella — Alex Collado called up
Barcelona have announced the squad list that will travel to the opposite side of Catalonia to take on UE Cornella in the Copa del Rey round of 32. The biggest takeaway is the inclusion of Alex Collado for derby day. The youngster is no stranger to the Cornella outfit and scored against them almost exactly a month ago with the Barcelona B team.
Konrad de la Fuente and Ilaix Moriba are included as well, and might get the chance to see some well-deserved time on the pitch for the senior team. On the other hand, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele have been called up as well, likely as emergency backups if push comes to shove.
Frenkie de Jong has been rested completely, which seems fair, given he is the outfield player to play most minutes under Ronald Koeman this season. A rest, even for one game, can do a world of good to him after playing 240 consecutive minutes in the Spanish Super Cup.
Similarly, Jordi Alba has been dropped as well, which will, hopefully, benefit him and restore his form. Sergino Dest is unfit, as confirmed by Ronald Koeman, and will miss the derby. Lionel Messi is banned and does not travel, either.
Full list: ter Stegen, Neto, Arnau Tenas; Mingueza, Lenglet, Araujo, Mingueza, Firpo; Busquets, Pjanic, Puig, Pedri, Matheus, Ilaix, Collado; Griezmann, Braithwaite, Dembele, Konrad, Trincao
Absentees: Dest, Pique, Messi, Coutinho, Alba, Roberto, de Jong, Fati
Tomorrow is the perfect chance for Koeman to rotate his options and see what youngsters can do. The likes of Alex Collado, Konrad de la Fuente, Riqui Puig have spent too much time on the sidelines, and deserve some minutes tomorrow. Additionally, giving Ilaix Moriba some minutes on the pitch might help his cause as well.
Source: FC Barcelona