The Riqui Puig phenomenon - an inside look at Barca's most promising starlet

The Matadepera born boy showed that he is a quite different footballer on his debut for the club

Valverde mide los tiempos y le señala el camino del triunfo a Riqui Puig
Valverde mide los tiempos y le señala el camino del triunfo a Riqui Puig | VALENTÍ ENRICH

The majesty of the Camp Nou does not intimidate Riqui Puig. On the contrary, it motivates him, it is the stage for his dreams, where he arrived at three years old and imagined himself one day as a protagonist on the green carpet that is the pitch. The day arrived. Against Cultural Leonesa he played his first minutes in an official match with Barcelona and just over half an hour was enough to show that Riqui is a special player, one of those who hook you from the first moment and distill the essence of Barca DNA in every way. He already showed it on the US tour and in the Joan Gamper Trophy, which was his first contact with Barça’s coliseum. The feeling of watching a footballing phenomenon started to take shape.

German Bona

@bonagerman

IN SPORT.ES

Riqui Puig will delight Barca fans and football fans in general, because the game is universal, but the road to get there is long. In fact, for the midfielder it is easier to shine under the spotlights of the Camp Nou than on the fields of Segunda B. And that is where his true learning is, the exam that he has to pass each week as an irreparable toll towards glory. It's nothing new, Messi also had a worse time with the B team than with the first team. The good ones have to be with the good ones.

The reality is that Riqui Puig is not even an undisputed starter in the team coached by García Pimienta, with 10 starts in 15 games played. His physique, despite conscientious work to gain muscle, makes him an easy target for those who push the laws of the game. Kicks make the fans suffer, Puig receives them naturally, as part of the game, and that serves him to learn to release the ball faster.

BALANCED BOY

All these situations are shaping the personality of a footballer who brings top quality and has a privileged vision of the game. Messi quickly realised that after Riqui started going to some training sessions with the first team last season. He wanted him at his side and, of course, the kid was happy to have his idol in front of him and on top of that, that he gave him the ball. He was not the only one who was astonished. Luis Suárez, Iniesta - a player whom he has many resemblances towards - were also captivated by his football. His pass to Denis Suarez on Wednesday concentrated in just one moment the ease he has in breaking rival lines with a great assist that others cannot deliver no matter how hard they try.

Nobody at the club, nor Ernesto Valverde, has the slightest doubt that they are in front of the great ‘jewel’ of the Barca youth team. They have to polish his football, because fortunately in the human aspect there is nothing to worry about. When he arrived at Barca Cadet B from Jábac Terrassa’s youth team, he surprised on and off the pitch because of his humility, his eternal smile even when things go wrong and a wise head. His father, Carlos, played for many years in Terrassa and is a common sense made person. He is the first to know that Riqui must move through the youth teams without hurry. Hence, none of his people will be carried away by the proposals of great Europeans sides wanting to fish Barça waters and this summer he will renew, with more speed and ease than in other cases, his deal with the club of his life.

Riqui Puig has everything to mark an era at Barça. At 19, it is not that the Second B is too small for him, it’s just that it is not his habitat. It is a necessary evil where he will show his integrity, because he never hides or complains. Meanwhile, he will continue to take advantage of opportunities with the first team. That's where he will triumph.

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