After their team’s embarrassing defeat and the Messi saga, it looked like things were settling down at the club. With a new coach at the helm, Barca started to win games and played decent football. But just when you thought Barca was ready to turn over a new lead, in came another shocker when Koeman said hinted that Riqui Puig was surplus at the club. As this news broke out Koeman in no time went into their hit list and started receiving negative publicity on the media.
The more important question here is: Why does Koeman want Puig out?
This must be the biggest question for Cules and try to we came up with some reasons for it
The Koeman way
Koeman has come to Barca with a fixed set of plans. He has a system that he believes would be perfect for Barca and wants his team and players to adapt and play accordingly. Koeman plays with a 4-2-3-1. In this formation, you typically play two midfielders who play as defensive /holding midfielder. Puig is more of an attacking type of player who doesn’t fit into that two holding midfielder category according to Koeman.
Problem of Plenty
Barcelona traditionally plays with 3 midfielders. But since Koeman came he brought a 4-2-3-1 formation which meant it had two midfielders and a CAM or No.10 role. For that CAM role, Barca has the world’s best player in Lionel Messi and his backup is a player who just recently won the Champions League in Coutinho. New singings Pedri and Trianco and the return of Alena makes that slot a tough competition. When it comes to the two behind CAM they have De Jong, Busquets, Alena, and their new arrival Pjanic. So technically Barca has 7 midfielders (excluding Puig) at the club for three midfield spots.
A young player like him who is still on the journey of becoming a complete footballer must play regularly to evolve. He is perfectly suited for the traditional Barca but not for Koeman.
So the best thing right now would be to go out on loan. And get some minutes under your belt, and most importantly gain some experience at a higher level (than Barca B)
So, now What’s next for Riqui Puig?
Riqui Puig has a big decision to make for his career and for that he has two choices-
He stays at Barca and fights for his place within the squad. And accepts the role as a 4th or 5th choice midfielder option. Puig staying at Barca will be a perfect decision from an emotional point of view. But will it be the right call for him from a practical point is what remains to be seen?
He decides to take Koeman’s advice and moves out on loan to some other club. Where he would get in to play regularly day in and day out. He needs to go to a club where his style of play completely fits into that club’s style of play.
What’s next for Riqui Puig?
The Best Choice: Ajax
The best option for Puig and Barca would be to loan out the youngster to Dutch league Champions Ajax. Barca and Ajax share a long connection starting from Legendary Johan Cruyff. Both club’s philosophy is pretty similar and Puig would slot straight into the Ajax lineup. Ajax has just lost Don Van de Beek to Manchester United and Puig can be his perfect replacement for him. As both players are neither full-fledged CAM nor CDM. Both Puig and Van de Beek are very versatile players who can play different positions in that midfield. Also, Barca looking to sign Ajax Right back Dest and including Puig on loan for one-two seasons. Along with some cash would be a perfect deal for both parties.
The Exciting Choice: Arsenal
At Arsenal, Mikel Arteta has a fascinating project at his hands. Arsenal under him is looking like a completely different team. Arsenal would gladly accept a player like Puig. As they continue their pursuit for a good midfielder and a loan deal for Puig would be perfect. Also by joining Arsenal and Premier League, he can develop the physical side of his game for which he is sometimes criticized. From Barca’s point of view, they are looking to get a right-back and Arsenal’s Bellerin is also an option for them. So if Barca and Arsenal decide to negotiate for Bellerin, Puig on a season-long loan can be included in the deal as again it would be beneficial for both clubs.
Ideal Choice: Villarreal/Betis
Ideally, Barca would want to send Puig on loan to a fellow La Liga club where he would get in some minutes. And would get the much-needed experience of the league where he is destined to play in the future.
In La Liga, Puig and his style of play would perfectly be suited for Clubs like Villarreal and Real Betis.
At Villarreal under former Arsenal boss Unai Emery they are building an exciting squad and a player of Puig’s quality would be welcomed by Villarreal with open arms and a loan deal for one season would suit all parties concerned. At Real Betis, he would fit perfectly into the role where his friend Alena used to play for Betis when he was on loan last season. Also, Betis under Pellegrini would have a good and exciting project wherein Puig would add quality. Which they lack in their squad after they had a poor campaign last season.
Whatever be the case with Puig. Barca and Puig himself should come out of this conundrum as soon as possible. As such, this kind of confusion is not good for the player himself and the club too. There needs to be clarity and transparency between the player, the coach, and the club.
It would be interesting to see what happens next in the Riqui Puig case.
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