Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig has offered an update on his situation at the Camp Nou and is confident he can force his way into manager Ronald Koeman’s plans.
The 21-year-old looked set for a summer exit after the Dutch coach publicly admitted he would be better off leaving on loan if he wanted to play regularly in 2020-21.
“I want to have success at Barcelona, earn my place and I don’t see any other way. I’m very happy at Barcelona. I have my family. I think I’ll end up playing. At no point did Koeman tell me [I wouldn’t play].
“He believes in me and I think he’s going to give me opportunities to show my potential and demonstrate that I can play at such a big club. Sometimes things get out [in the media] that aren’t true and they’re taken out of context.”
Yet Puig certainly has his work cut out. He’s not managed a single minute in three La Liga games so far this season and faces stiff competition for a place in the team given Barca’s bloated squad.
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Koeman Offers Puig Hope
Koeman has offered Puig some hope he will get the chance to stake a claim for regular football in a recent interview with Barca TV. The 57-year-old was asked about the young midfielder and said he will have to earn his chances.
He explained: “Riqui has decided to stay. If his performance is there, then he will have opportunities to play.”
Puig is widely regarded as one of the club’s most talented players to emerge from La Masia in recent years but even so, is finding it hard to make the breakthrough. Barca offloaded midfielders Arturo Vidal, Arthur, and Ivan Rakitic in the summer but still have a host of midfielders in the squad.
Puig Eyeing Euros with Spain
Puig, who is currently on Spain Under-21 duty, is well aware of the quality in the Barcelona squad but does have extra motivation to prove himself this season.
The midfielder wants to be part of the Spain squad for the Under-21 European Championship next summer but knows he will have to be playing for Barca to have any chance of being included.
“There are lots of quality players. It’s true that [if] I’m not getting minutes at my club, it will be difficult to go to the European Championship. I think I’ll end up getting minutes and some chances at Barcelona, [so] I’ll be able to go to the European Championship. I’m optimistic. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed at Barcelona.”
A congested fixture list at Barcelona could see Koeman rotate his squad and hand Puig chances. There’s no doubt the midfielder has bags of talent, but he also has his work cut out forcing his way into Koeman’s starting XI.