Riqui Puig: Barcelona’s diminishing star

Riqui Puig had long been touted to become the next big star of Barcelona‘s famed youth academy but he failed to take his opportunities when they arrived and has now fallen off track, ending up with a surprise summer move to LA Galaxy in MLS.

He did not manage to hold down regular playing time with Ernesto Valverde, the coach who gave him his debut, nor with Quique Setien, nor with Ronald Koeman – with whom he had the most stormy relationship. Xavi Hernandez then arrived in the dugout, who played in his position and whom Puig was tipped to become the next version of, but that never transpired either.

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Puig managed just 57 appearances with the first team spread over four seasons and only 14 of them as a starter.

Comfortably installed as a full member of the first team squad, he refused to continue playing for Barcelona B or to go on loan to another team to gain experience.

His conformism or perhaps his stubbornness ended up stagnating his career, and at the Catalan giants there has been no sign of the evolution that was expected of him in the last two seasons, especially in his physical and defensive performance, the two areas where the midfielder had a lot of room for improvement.

“Riqui trains very well, he’s a professional. I feel bad to not give him more minutes, but we have players at a very high level,” Xavi said last season.

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“There’s Pedri, Gavi, Nico, Frenkie… It’s a shame, but he has fierce competition; that’s the main problem.”

Has Riqui Puig wasted his chance in the big leagues?

Now, on the verge of turning 23, Riqui Puig has left Barcelona to move to MLS where European veterans usually go to end their careers.

Who knows if Riqui has given up for good, if he has decided to accept that he has missed his chance to succeed in the big leagues, or if he will return to Europe at some point?

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