It’s Sunday and unless you follow MLS or Serie A there isn’t a whole lot of football on, so let’s return to the transfer rumors that we all love. It’s not hard to find any number of stories linking Spurs to any number of transfer targets.
But let’s face it, most of them are boring, or retreads of rumors we already know. Instead, let’s take a trip to Spain and a deep dive into Barcelona’s academy. Spanish sports newspaper Sport.es has made a claim that Mauricio Pochettino has his eye on 18-year old Ricard “Riqui” Puig, and that the clubs are close to a transfer agreement.
Puig is a highly talented teenage central midfielder who is considered one of the better talents currently in Barcelona’s youth system. According to Sport, Pochettino is “in love” with his game, and he recently broke into Barcelona’s B team. However, he has apparently decided not to extend his Barca contract and move on to another club, and Spurs are supposedly close to an agreement to bring him to north London.
Puig was one of the Barcelona youngsters that won the UEFA Youth League last month, beating Chelsea in the final. He also has been called up in recent weeks to train with Barcelona’s senior team by Ernesto Valverde.
The training session is under way on the Tito Vilanova pitch Available first team players are joined by Miranda, Riqui Puig and Jokin Ezkieta, from @FCBarcelonaB #ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/4Dnq0MB42q— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 15, 2018
I’m not going to try and convince you that I’ve watched a lot of Barcelona Juvenil matches (nope), so instead I hit the net and tried to find some highlight videos that may give an idea of what he can do. I found a few on Youtube. Here’s one in particular that I like — keep an eye on #14, that’s Riqui.
As you might expect of a product of Barcelona’s academy, Puig seems to be a highly technically skilled central midfielder, with a good amount of pace and lots of skill on the ball. He’s not a big kid, but he knows how to handle himself, his passing is nice, and he’s not afraid to take people on in the dribble. He plays in a deeper midfield role but his football vision looks pretty good for an 18-year old kid. It certainly looks like he has the right tools in the toolbox to be a really, really good footballer.
Sport claims that there are tons of clubs interested in Piqui and Tottenham are the furthest along in negotiations, though no decision has been made. I don’t know if he’s a player that could walk into the first team at Spurs immediately -- he seems to be more of a Juan Foyth young-player-with-potential kind of sining, someone who if he comes could hang around the fringes of the first team and potentially getting his feet wet in the cups. Although, like Foyth, if his potential is as good as advertised it might not be long before he’s pushing for first team minutes.
It’s always good to be super skeptical about reports like this one, but I’m all for signing exciting and young Barcelona-trained talent, especially if Spurs can snap them up before they become household names and their transfer costs go through the roof. It’s thought that Puig will decide on his future within the next few days.