New Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has dropped another bombshell on the club by informing starlet Riqui Puig he is surplus to requirements and can leave the Camp Nou.
According to Gerard Romero at RAC1, the Dutch coach has told the 21-year-old midfielder he is not in his future plans and it would be best for him to look for a new club.
Puig is widely regarded as the latest jewel to emerge from the club’s famous La Masia academy and looked to have a big future ahead of him. The midfielder made 12 first-team appearances last season and has also featured in both of the club’s pre-season friendlies against Nastic and Girona.
Yet competition for places in Barcelona’s midfield is fierce with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, and Carles Alena all available, while Pedri and Miralem Pjanic have also arrived this summer.
Koeman’s decision will not go down well with Barcelona fans. Puig is hugely popular among supporters, and the hashtag ‘RiquiNoSeToca’ (Don’t touch Riqui) was trending in Spain in the aftermath of the report being published.
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Puig ‘Surprised’ and ‘Disappointed’ By Decision
Puig has been left ‘surprised’ and ‘disappointed’ by Koeman’s decision, according to Cadena SER. The midfielder had previously been told by the club he would have a firs-team number for next season.
The midfielder’s commitment to the club has never been in question. There has been speculation previously he could leave on loan to play more regularly, but he’s always made it clear his aim is to succeed at Barcelona.
He spoke to Mundo Deportivo about his future in 2019.
“I have not raised it or raised it from the club. I’m very good here, it’s my club, I have my family, I’m at home. If they give me a choice I want to stay, because I’m from Barça since I was a child and my intention is to succeed here.
“This is the best club in the world and I am very happy. As a child I’ve always wanted to play here, I’m very satisfied. I am a Barça B player, I train with the first team, accepting my role and very happy.”
It’s not clear at this point if Barcelona are looking to sell Puig or would consider a loan.
Puig Left Out Of Barcelona Friendly
Koeman has also left Puig out of his 23-man squad for Saturday’s final pre-season friendly. The Catalan giants take on Elche at the Camp Nou in the Joan Gamper Trophy, their traditional season curtain-raiser.
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🍿 Joan Gamper Trophy pic.twitter.com/jrXsVOWGqp
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 19, 2020
Puig’s last appearance came on Wednesday as a substitute in the 3-1 win over Girona. The midfielder caught the eye at half-time when showing off his skills with Pedri on the touchline.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 17, 2020
Koeman is likely to be asked about Puig’s absence from the squad after the match, and fans will certainly be keen to hear his thoughts on why the talented youngster does not appear to be in his plans.