Riqui Puig’s penalty heroines showed Ronald Koeman what he’s missing
For the love of all that is holy, play Riqui Puig.
This is the message that many Barcelona fans have been screaming at the sky for what feels like an eternity, but their cries have always been ignored by those in power at Barcelona.
A 21-year-old midfielder, Puig is a fan favorite as he passed through the famous La Masia academy, but his talent has also impressed fans. Some have described him as the most naturally gifted midfielder the club have seen since Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
However, for some reason this hysteria was not matched by Barcelona managers. Despite making his debut in December 2018, Puig has just 22 appearances to his name and has not started more than eight games in total, with Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and Ronald Koeman all preferring more experienced options.
Especially egregious was Koeman’s manipulation of Puig. The Dutchman walked into the club and immediately told the youngster that he was free to leave, but Puig dismissed that cry, kept his head down and wanted to prove to the boss he was wrong.
He didn’t have many chances to do so, but he seized the opportunity when he was tasked with being Barcelona’s hero in Wednesday’s Super Cup semi-final victory over the Real Sociedad.
With the game tied at 1-1, Puig was brought in for extra time, but it was in the penalty shoot-out that the Spaniard rose to be scored. He pocketed Barcelona’s fifth penalty, reserving the team’s place in the final after Antoine Griezmann’s inflated effort put him in danger.
“I had four names on paper and I asked who wanted to shoot the fifth, the last to win,” revealed Koeman (via Marca). “And Riqui put up his hand decisively.
He’s an unwanted child with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he chose to add to that pressure. When no one else wanted the responsibility, Puig ordered the spotlight to show that it can be summoned.
Not only welcoming that pressure but also being up to it and scoring the winning penalty says a lot about Puig’s character, and it’s about time someone at Camp Nou listened to him.
Puig is just calling for an extended run in the team to show what he can do. He knows he can be successful at Barcelona, and under the right leadership, he will.
His plan is to bide his time and wait for the new president to arrive. Hopefully someone sees some sense and realizes that the 21-year-old is Barcelona’s future. Xavi is known to be a big fan of Puig, and his return to Camp Nou could be the catalyst for change.
“I never lost my smile, I’m a happy guy. Even if I don’t play, things are going well, I have my family, my health and I can’t complain, ”Puig said. “If Ronald gives me a few minutes, I’ll be grateful and make the most of it, otherwise I’ll keep working.”
“I will never give up, after so many years at the club and the efforts I made to join the first team, and now I’m here, I’m not giving up now.”
When you are in a rebuild you need characters like Puig. He’s right there. For the love of all that is holy, play Riqui Puig.
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