Riqui Puig: What can Arsenal and Leeds expect?

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald Updated: 19 May 2021 16:43 CEST 4 min read
Riqui Puig: What can Arsenal and Leeds expect?

Riqui Puig has been frozen out for much of the season at Barcelona and is expected to leave on loan in January.

Current coach Ronald Koeman doesn’t believe the La Masia graduate has the capacity to play on a regular basis in his team, and he has played for a derisory three minutes in La Liga this season, with another 74 minutes from three sub appearances in the Champions League.

Barca fans are big believers in what Puig is capable of, and towards the end of last season they begun to get their wish, starting a succession of games post-lockdown under Quique Setien. But Koeman has shown little love for the diminutive midfielder.

He is so far down the pecking order that a move anywhere would be preferable to being frozen out for another half-season, and Premier League clubs Arsenal and Leeds are among those interested. But what type of player is Puig?

Riqui Puig: Barcelona

Riqui Puig Playing Style, Powered by SCI Sports

Riqui Puig Playing Style, Powered by SCI Sports

Puig’s style is that of an advanced playmaker and he has often been compared to Andres Iniesta. While he is miles off the level of his fellow Masia graduate it’s not difficult to see the comparisons. Indeed, as SCISports shows, he produces little in the way of defensive actions and wants to create in the final third.

Key Pass P901.7
Accurate Key Pass P900.6
Expected Assists P900.23
xG + xA P900.4
Riqui Puig, 19/20 Statistics

It must be taken into account that Puig is putting up these numbers in the small amount of game time given to him – just 578 minutes in all competitions in 2019/20. Yet his numbers are still competitive with his peers at Barcelona. 1.7 Key Passes P90 is the best of any midfielder at the club, as is the 0.6 completion rate.

His xA of 0.23, meanwhile, is in and around Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez’s offerings from last season. A small, probing figure, always looking forward – this could be an asset to any team. Indeed, some might say it could be of benefit to Barcelona.

Koeman’s Puig Concerns

Koeman has always been concerned around two things; his passing profile and his size. Puig is skillful but small and there’s not a huge amount to him. And in terms of playing in an advanced role, Koeman already has Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho and Griezmann, while not performing the same role, featuring in the same space.

Puig is now 21 but has been grossly underused in his career. Seven competitive starts just isn’t enough to discover what he is capable of. But with the small sample size we have at the top level, we can see fearless, progressive attributes which are promising.

Arsenal, for one, clearly lack a player like this, with Dani Ceballos flattering to deceive and Mesut Ozil frozen out. Leeds, meanwhile, have been searching for a creator now that Pablo Hernandez is a little too old for the rigours of the Premier League. Puig just needs minutes in a good team. If he is offered them, he should take it.