Once upon a time, in the near past, an 18-year-old kid was being touted as the new Andres Iniesta. Coming through the ranks of La Masia, Riqui Puig was given a chance to show his worth at the highest level with Barcelona in the 2018/19 season. The promise was that Puig will provide the same magic that his predecessor Iniesta did in the midfield.
The fans were behind him and so was the board. And so Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien all did what was asked of them — giving Puig his birthright to embrace the Barcelona midfield. The pressure on the kid was immense, but his timing couldn’t have been worse. The Catalans went through turmoil after 2019, firing Valverde and Setien after horrific losses, but the appointment of an ex-Cule Ronald Koeman was seen as an embodiment of a better time.
But Koeman didn’t see what the fans or the board saw in Puig. For him, the youngster still didn’t possess to become an integral part of Barcelona’s majestic midfield. Koeman thought that it was a heavy burden to carry for such a young lad. Until Koeman’s appointment, Puig had only made 15 appearances for the senior team across all competitions.
He had been around but wasn’t preferred by Valverde and Setien alike. Puig was often sent to the Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football, to hone his skills and gain experience. And when he returned, Puig fought with Koeman for game time, which didn’t sit well with the Dutchman.
To vent his frustration, Puig leaked the dressing room talk out to the press. Koeman claimed this and was completely furious about the Spaniard’s actions. When Koeman spoke about Puig’s reluctance to follow orders, the fans also hopped on the wagon and learned more about Puig.
And after careful examination, many inferred that Puig was always involved in partying and was not true to his talent. For them, it became a clear case of someone using Barcelona’s brand name to further his purpose without actually working for it.
Thus Puig who managed a mere 24 appearances across four competitions under Koeman was slowly becoming a liability for the team and the board. He failed to cement his spot and when Xavi took over as the new gaffer, not much changed.
From the hero that Barcelona needed, Puig turned into a selfish machine who kept himself before anyone. This didn’t work well and with Barcelona’s new chapter on the horizon with new signings, the Spaniard no longer had a place, not even on the bench.
He wasn’t included in Xavi’s plans and the Blaugrana was desperate to ward him off to the highest bidder. After no significant bids from clubs across Europe, the Catalans were forced to entertain a certain interest from the Major League Soccer (MLS) side, the LA Galaxy for Puig.
The nitty-gritty of the deal is yet to be completed, but Puig, sensing that he’s out of options, has now reached a verbal agreement with the LA Galaxy. But the MLS side has limited time to secure his signature since the transfer window for them closes on August 4.
For many Barca fans, it’s good riddance. But for Puig, this is an opportunity to show that he is still cut out for the highest level and can climb that ladder back again after a hit show in Los Angeles.