Riqui Puig delight at Barcelona first-team opportunities

Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig is ‘happy to give joy to this club’ after being given increasing prominence in the first-team under boss Quique Setien.

The 20-year-old has only featured in 75 minutes in La Liga spread across five substitute appearances, but three of them have now come in successive games – against Leganes, Sevilla and, on Tuesday evening, against Athletic Club Bilbao.

Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Artur Melo are the first-choice central midfielders at the club, limiting Puig’s game-time.

However, Setien – who was appointed at the Camp Nou in January – appears to be showing more faith in the young midfielder than his predecessor Ernesto Valverde.

“I am very happy, especially for the minutes and the confidence Quique is giving me, and if we accompany that with good results, good minutes and a good rhythm, I am happy to give joy to this club,” Puig is cited as telling reporters by El Mundo Deportivo.

Puig, 20. made three senior appearances for the Catalan giants last season and is widely regarded as one of the brightest talents to come through their La Masia academy in years.

Puig made his La Liga debut on 13 April 2019, starting in a 0–0 draw against Huesca, and played 67 minutes, before starting in a 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo in May.

The midfielder made his senior team debut with first team against Cultural Leonesa in a 4–1 home victory in the Copa Del Rey in December 2018, as he came on in the 55th minute and assisted the fourth goal. He described his debut as ‘a dream come true’.

A report in Diario Sport earlier this season claimed Ajax, Celta de Vigo and Granada were all interested in securing him on loan, but he now appears to be staying at the Camp Nou.

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