Riqui Puig, the loneliness of La Masia’s latest frustration

Riqui Puig, the loneliness of La Masia's latest disappointment

Tired of football and probably everything, Gareth Bale (Cardiff, 33) moved to Los Angeles from the Santiago Bernabéu. Lionel Messi (Rosario, 35) dreams of retiring to Miami. And Sergio Busquets (Sabadell, 34) wonders about his future in MLS. In the land where the big stars are turning off their football, Riqui Puig (Barcelona, ​​22) is starting to shed some light on his future at the Los Angeles Galaxy. Without the confidence of Xavi or the interest of European teams, the ultimate illusion of the youth team consumed its stage at the Camp Nou as everything is consumed in modern times: at the speed of a reel.

In complex first-team narratives, homegrown players have always been viewed with an ancient condescension. Especially at a time when the La Masia dressing room is run by seasoned footballers. This happened, for example, when Ernesto Valverde was in charge of Barca. In Txingurri’s last full season, 2018-2019, Barca’s captains were Messi, Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Pique. In this campaign, Miranda, Chumi, Cuenca, Collado, Ruiz, Carles Pérez, Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig have been promoted to the first team. The difference between Fati’s and Puig’s landings was striking. While the Hispano-Guinean was hugged by the locker room (to the benefit of a few bad faces from Messi), the Catalan had moved on to fear (to the benefit of all the good faces from Pique).

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“Ansu comes with club clothes and Riqui from Gucci,” a club employee recalled. Clothes as a symbol of posture. “Ansu also has designer clothes, of course, but he didn’t want to attract attention,” they explain to those close to the international with Spain. Keeping the Camp Nou dressing room with the chic label invented as a style protector and protected by a certain sector of the press, Riqui Puig was suffocated by the first team dressing room. This was not a new situation for the jovial team. His time at Barça B was not even a harvest of good relationships. From his first year in the subsidiary, he was warned: “The figures are marked by the decline. Riqui replied: “Jo vull el deu”. The 10 was held by Carles Pérez. The year after the same story. But the lucky shirt was taken by Collado.

“He was never a manager in the subsidiary,” they explain to Ciudad Deportiva. He didn’t have the complicity of his teammates or the affection of the group. In fact, they had nicknamed him Benito Simple, after the character of Don Astuto, for his beautiful tone of voice. At Barca B, the on-pitch brawls between Riqui Puig and Collado were famous (in one game a referee warned them that he would send them both off), as well as the anger of rivals around Puig. “How much do you earn? he always asked her. “You will see when you come to our stadium,” they replied. Riqui, always kind to the press in the mixed zone, complained about the treatment: “They kick me a lot,” said the youth team, who started their professional career in second B.

At La Masia, Riqui Puig only caught the eye when he played for Tierno A. “Then the physicist started accompanying him,” says a jovial football coach. He never stood out like he did in the Youth League which Barca won in 2018. His time at Barca B was irregular. “He understands the sport like no one else and he looks very good for life with his physique,” admitted García Pimienta, then coach of the Barça subsidiary. For inclination fans, Riqui seemed made to dress up as a Barça athlete; However, the coaches have pointed out some flaws in his sport: “He loses a lot of balls.

His stats haven’t improved in the first team. He played 57 games (including 15 as a starter) and lost an average of 4.5 balls per duel. “An original footballer is much more than three tricks and a good pass per game. We can only accept that Messi does not engage defensively,” says a member of the technical secretariat. Valverde didn’t back Riqui, not even Koeman. Quique Setién threatened to protect him and Xavi said period. The technician who could understand him the best was the one who understood him the least. His CV took him away from European football. Today, the United States finds a place to stay. No one will judge you by your clothes or your doorbell anymore.

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