THE CONUNDRUM OF RIQUI PUIG

riqui puig should play more

Riqui Puig has been a fan favorite for the longest time. However, he has not been given much deserved game time at the club. The midfielder is super talented, and a joy to watch every time he steps on the pitch. The Barcelona midfield has never looked so packed than it is this season. With the emergence of the ever talented Ilaix Moriba, Gavi, and Nico Gonzales from La Masia, it is hard to see how the minutes will be managed. 

Frenkie De Jong, and Sergio Bousquets look to be the undisputed starters every game. But Pedri’s minutes will be managed this season. Bousquets would also not have the legs to play every week, and Nico Gonzales is the favorite to replace him long-term. But the 19-year-old won’t become a regular just yet, as he’s very young. This means that De Jong might play as a defensive midfielder. That might make way to Riqui Puig playing as the number 6 or the number 8 as well. 

RIQUI PUIG’S HEATMAP

Riqui Puig played only 14 games in the league last season, starting just 2. He scored just one goal in that time. The most appearances he made was after the 80th minute mark giving the players on the pitch a bit of rest. But his stats in the limited minutes are no less than impressive. He has 0.4 key passes per game, 0.6 long balls, 92% pass accuracy, and 0.4 tackles per game. Riqui’s heatmap says it all about him, he can play in multiple positions. 

Illaix Moriba’s contract situation will be resolved soon, and he will also be a part of the first team. But the most talented out of the lot is Gavi, who has impressed Koeman the most. He’s only 16 though, so he won’t be a designated starter as of yet, unless he pulls off an ‘Ansu Fati’, which seems unlikely. The fans are loving the youngsters coming through, but they also want to see Puig start every game.

Koeman has shown, and is showing tremendous trust in young players. But It is difficult to fathom why Riqui has not been given more game time. Every time he comes on the pitch, he’s smiling, and giving his all. He truly bleeds Blaugrana. However, with Pjanic almost leaving the club, and Bousquets ageing, it certainly gives some room for Puig to get more minutes than last season. But it’s difficult to see how he becomes a starter as he has not yet gained Ronald Koeman’s 100% confidence. 

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