Saturday, February 22, 2020

Puig´s absence from Barca B squad hints at Setien´s plans

SoccerNews in La Liga 15 Jan 2020

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Barcelona talent Riqui Puig is absent from the B team’s squad to face Badalona, hinting at potential imminent involvement with the first team following Quique Setien’s arrival as head coach.

Setien was presented as Ernesto Valverde’s successor at Barca on Tuesday following the former’s dismissal the previous day after the club’s board had become frustrated.

Renowned for his entertaining brand of football, former Real Betis boss Setien was brought in due to his ideologies lining up closely with those of Barca.

Setien is also known for his faith in youth, utilising the academies of Betis and Las Palmas to good effect in his past two jobs, seemingly marking himself out as an ideal fit for Barca and their famed La Masia development school.

Some supporters had been irked by Valverde’s reluctance to give the technically gifted Puig, 20, more first-team opportunities at Camp Nou, with the much-vaunted youngster yet to make a LaLiga appearance this season.

But first-team involvement appears to be on the cards under Setien, with Puig’s absence from Barca B’s squad prompting suggestions he will be involved with the senior side against Granada on Sunday, when Frenkie de Jong is suspended and Arthur (groin) is set to miss out. 

Puig was one of the young players to take part in the first training sessions of Setien’s tenure, while the coach also made it abundantly clear in his presentation to the media that emerging talents will be given opportunities.

When asked about Puig on Tuesday, Setien said: “I don’t know if you’ve followed my career, but this club has an extraordinary academy. While I don’t know it in-depth, they [the biggest talents] will be training with us and participating.

“Those in the first team need to be clear; talent that’s coming up will get the chances if they deserve them.

“I’ll make a special effort to take care of the kids because you can always have a new kid coming through who adds energy to everything and that provides a boost to the squad, meaning those at the top don’t relax.

“That’s very important and it sends a message to the kids in the lower ranks. It’s a message I always transmit. If they impress, earn their spot, they are perfectly able to play in the first team, that’s clear.”

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