Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has provided an insight the reasoning behind the lack of playing time afforded to Riqui Puig to this point in the campaign.
21-year-old Puig is a product of the famed La Masia academy.
The midfielder was long viewed as one of the finest talents to have blossomed in the Barca youth system in recent years, resulting in his eventual integration into the club’s first-team setup during the 2018/19 campaign.
Last season saw the technically-gifted Spaniard’s game-time increase further, en route to 11 La Liga appearances, including a respectable 5 starts.
In turn, with Puig having generally looked impressive when handed the opportunity to showcase his talents, the Blaugrana faithful no doubt expected their side’s academy graduate to stake a claim for a first-choice midfield berth this season.
To this point, however, this has proven some way from the case.
In fact, on the back of Ronald Koeman’s arrival in Catalunya, Puig has been afforded just a solitary league appearance, amounting to a grand total of 3 minutes.
This comes with the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Miralem Pjanic and Sergio Busquets all sitting ahead of the youngster in the midfield pecking order at the Camp Nou.
‘Players who don’t do enough in training…’
Large sections of the Barcelona faithful have made crystal clear their frustrations with their manager’s treatment of Puig of late, with the Catalan giants of course not exactly thriving in his absence.
As such, speaking ahead of his side’s latest outing, a meeting with Valencia on Saturday afternoon, Ronald Koeman was today drawn on the 21-year-old’s continued absence from his starting XI.
And the ever-bullish Dutchman certainly did not hold back with his response.
Koeman appeared to aim a dig at Puig’s work ethic, insisting that ‘it’s not just about quality’ when attempting to earn game-time under his watch:
🚨 Ronald Koeman, when asked about Riqui Puig: “I like people who work every day to improve, and who take opportunities with both hands. Sometimes it’s not just about quality. There may be players who don’t do enough in training for the coach to give opportunities” #FCB 🇪🇸
— Reshad Rahman ✆ (@HagridFCB) December 18, 2020