FC Barcelona bench has a very talented bench but it seems that there won’t be enough minutes for some players. La Masia players like Iñaki Peña, Riqui Puig, Álex Collado might not have a place in the squad as they’re not been given minutes at the moment. These are very talented players, and need to play regularly but Koeman has given the message that he doesn’t trust them.
Ronald Koeman has shown tremendous trust in the youth, but at the same time he has not treated many players fairly. It will be a massive loss if the club loses these great academy talents to other teams. Many big clubs have some of these players on their list if Barca does move on to let them go. Also, other clubs will get them on e cheap given Barca’s financial situation and the need for money.
Collado did pre-season with the first team, and scored against Nastic as well. He offers a lot on the right wing, and can play as a number 9 as well. Collado likes to come inside, dribble the defence, and takes shots on goal. He has captained the B team under Garcia Pimienta as well. In the first league game against Real Sociedad, he did not even call Collado for the game, he wasn’t on the bench. Given that Leo Messi has left, with Fati, Dembele, and Aguero injured, this is a very strong message by Koeman to the player.
After the game Koeman said “Alex Collado? It is a matter of competition. I currently prefer Demir in that position”. The player is not even registered with the first team, having a great pre-season with them. His loan to Club Brugge was also called off as the Belgians wanted a buy option. The Barca B captain’s future is still in the air, there’s no offer from any club as of now. He can still be loaned out, or have a permanent transfer given that he might not get a chance to play in the first team.
This one is the most baffling amongst the Barca faithful. The question why Puig is not playing is the most talked about. No one has the answer to this question. When Koeman is asked about it in the media, he says that he has no problem with the player. He has been given the number 6 jersey this season with the departure of Carles Alena.
Puig made 14 appearances last season for Barcelona, mostly off the bench. He scored only once, as he played the last 10 minutes of every game. The player made 0.4 key passes per game, 92% pass accuracy, 27.9 touches, 1.6 duels won, and 0.4 successful dribbles. These are more than decent stats for a player given very limited minutes. Every time Puig comes on the pitch, there’s passion, a big smile, and a drive to play for the blaugrana clearly visible on his face.
Riqui wants nothing more than to be able to play for Barcelona. His patience is commendable and is to be respected. The player receives harsh criticism from fans as Pedri is better than him, or even Gavi is better. But that’s unfair, as he’s a different sort of player being an interior. It will be a heartbreak to see him leave. Koeman needs to trust the player more to give him more game time.
The Barcelona B goalkeeper also did pre-season with the first team, but hasn’t been promoted. This is primarily due to Ter Stegen’s injury and Koeman’s inability to trust the goalkeeper yet. To be fair, he has not been given opportunities at the highest level. Moreover, Barcelona B goalkeeper Aranau Tenas is considered the real heir to Marc Andre Ter Stegen in the long-term. The player also represents the Spain U-21 team.
Iñaki Peña should leave on loan at least, if not a permanent transfer to a big club in La Liga or elsewhere. Arsenal are still thinking about Neto, but given his performances lately, he might end up staying. But he also knows that after the German is available to play, he won’t get any minutes whatsoever.
Other players like Couotinho, Pjanic, Umtiti, and Lenglet are also bench players. But there’s no club who is willing to bet on them. These players will not be getting any game time and are sitting on high wages with no transfer offer from anyone. How Barca will get rid of them is a matter of great concern. But for the La Masia talents must not be let go of, and rather given a place in the first team.