Ernesto Valverde Talks Riqui Puig's Future amid Barcelona Exit Rumours

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IINovember 4, 2019

Barcelona's Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde attends a press conference at the Joan Gamper Sports City training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on November 4, 2019, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League Group F football match between FC Barcelona and SK Slavia Prague. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said on Monday that Riqui Puig will play for the club in the future amid rumours he could leave the Camp Nou on loan due to a lack of playing time.

Valverde told reporters the 20-year-old does have a future with the Catalan giants, but he stopped short of saying when he might expect a call-up to the first team.

"We have a lot of players in midfield and every time I come here, I'm asked about the ones who aren't in the squad," said Valverde, in his third season in charge of the Blaugrana. "But Riqui Puig is a talent, and it's clear he is going to play at Barca. We just don't know when. He is in a period of development, and the period is in at Barca B is helping him."

The central midfielder is part of the Barcelona B squad and is regarded as one of La Masia's brightest young stars. He made three appearances for the first team in 2018-19 but has yet to feature for the senior side this season.

The Spaniard told reporters on Sunday he has not ruled out leaving the club in the January transfer window, but he would like more chances to make the step up:

"No theoretically, no. I don't close the door, but it's true that I would like to have more minutes. If I don't have any minutes, I will have to make a decision. I'm not training so much with the first team this season, whereas last year I was practically in the first team setup, training with them and going down to play with the B team."

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Puig has demonstrated his quality again for Barca B this season with a goal and an assist in a 2-2 draw with AE Prat in September:

Yet despite all his obvious talent, he faces a tough task breaking into the Barcelona first team. The club have an overabundance of midfielders with Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Arturo Vidal all struggling for starts this season.

Las Palmas are keen to take the youngster on loan in January and have a good relationship with Barcelona, according to Marca's Jesus Izquierdo.

Yet Barcelona may be willing to offload Rakitic and Alena in the winter, and if the duo were to leave, Puig would stay, according to Sport's Juan Manuel Diaz.

Both player and club will be keen for him to fulfil his potential and go on to star for the first team. Opportunities look like thin this season, meaning the youngster faces a tough decision over his future in January.