Riqui Puig has been training alone after being surprisingly left out of the Barcelona squad for Saturday’s La Liga clash with Alaves by manager Ronald Koeman.
The 21-year-old midfielder has taken to Instagram to show how he’s working hard at a deserted training ground while his team-mates prepare for their match against Pablo Machin’s side.
— Albert Rogé (@albert_roge) October 31, 2020
Puig’s omission was a surprise even though he’s only managed three minutes of action for Barcelona so far in 2020-21 as a late substitute in the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo at Balaidos.
Koeman explained it was a “technical decision” to omit Puig from his 21-man traveling squad and that he would “prefer that players train intensively rather than travel” if they are not going to feature, as reported by ESPN’s Sam Marsden.
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What Next For Puig?
Puig’s chances of playing regularly at Barcelona under Koeman are looking pretty bleak currently, particularly as the youngster simply doesn’t seem a good fit for the Dutch coach’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Koeman’s double pivot in midfield does not suit Puig’s strengths and playing style, while he is battling players such as Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann for a place further forward.
The club’s new signings have also seen Puig slip further down the pecking order at Camp Nou. Pedri, who is four years younger than Puig and only arrived in the summer from Las Palmas, seems to have convinced Koeman of his qualities already and has featured in all the club’s games this season.
Koeman’s decision to leave Puig out for Alaves is even more surprising given the coach is without Coutinho due to injury and is expected to rotate his team as the match comes after crunch games against Real Madrid and Juventus.
Time For Puig To Leave?
Puig’s lack of game time means the midfielder could contemplate leaving on loan in January when the transfer window opens in January. A temporary move could see the 21-year-old gain some much-needed playing time and show Koeman what he can do at another club.
Koeman has already advised Puig he would be better off heading out on loan in order to continue his development, as reported by Sport. However, the midfielder told Radio Cope, as reported by Marca, that he was confident he could turn his situation around.
Puig’s resolve could be tested again in the winter if he does receive offers from elsewhere, and he could take inspiration from Coutinho who spent last season on Bayern and has since returned and gone straight back into the Barcelona team.
Yet the midfielder will also be aware that change is coming to Barcelona. A new president is due to be installed following Josep Maria Bartomeu’s resignation which could have a big impact on the club.
Koeman may have only arrived as manager in August but his position will come under scrutiny if he does not get results on the pitch, and the incoming president may have very different ideas regarding who should be in charge of the club.