The triumph of the rebel Riqui Puig

That of Riqui Puig It is one of those stories of overcoming, of determination and effort. The youth squad received a hard kick at the beginning of the season when, after a couple of weeks of training, Ronald Koeman I notified him that he was not counting on him. One of the great projects of La Masía, one of the last pearls to knock down the door of the first team and settle in it, received a “you are not worth me” from its coach. He invited him to find a team in mid-September. Riqui said no.

The youth squad stayed and decided to fight for minutes despite the decision of his coach. The bet did not go entirely well for him since so far he has had a residual role in the team, he has enjoyed very few minutes and his contribution always went unnoticed until these semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup. Riqui Puig was one of the great culés winners, along with Ter Stegen, in the pass to the final of Barça against Real Sociedad, which was decided in the penalty shoot-out. The youth squad’s launch ended up deciding the crossing.

But it was his impudence and desire to please that led him to shoot the penalty. Own Koeman, after the game, he explained it. He had only four names on his list to take the penalty. They were De Jong, Dembélé, Pjanic and Griezmann. He did not have the fifth and decided to ask the rest of the available crowd who wanted to be the pitcher. Maybe it didn’t get to launch, maybe it was final. There it was fast Riqui.

«I had four names written on my paper and I asked who wanted to shoot the fifth and he asked. And he has done very well», Confessed the Dutchman who praised the hero of the contest so much, Ter Stegen, like the youth squad: «You have to have a great goalkeeper like Ter Stegen and Riqui had the personality to shoot the fifth. It is important to be in the final.

«There was one missing and I was the first to say that I wanted to shoot the penalty. It was very clear to him. I really wanted to celebrate the first goal with the first team. The fifth was missing, there was a blank hole and I told him I wanted to paste it », explained a smiling and happy Riqui Puig after the game at Movistar’s microphones, after scoring his first goal with the first team, he assured that he did not know where he was going to shoot but that as soon as he put the ball in the penalty spot he already knew that he was going inside.

I’ve never lost the smile. I’m a pretty happy kid. Even if I don’t play, things are going well for me. I could not complain about anything. Yes Ronald Give me a minute I’ll appreciate it and I’ll take advantage of it, if not then I will continue working», Added the Catalan, who does not think of going out in this winter market:«Throwing in the towel is not in my head. After so many years at the club and what it took me to get to the first team, now that I’m there I’m never going to throw in the towel.

TO Riqui Puig a larger showcase is now opening for him. He jumped onto the field after extra time and did not clash, appeared and offered himself to each teammate playing the role of a Pedri that has eclipsed everyone, occupying headlines and minutes in the starting eleven. But his confidence and impudence can leave behind the various confrontational episodes he had with his coach and gain positions in the rotations, being one of the first options when it comes to resting the starters.

Complicated start

And is that Riqui he ran into the first change with the slam of Koeman. In September, with just over two weeks into the preseason, the Dutchman phoned the youth squad to tell him that he did not have him, that he was not in his plans and that he could not guarantee the minutes he expected. But the player had a clear decision: to stay at the club, train in silence, wait for an opportunity and seize it. Who knows if that moment has already arrived after the semifinal in Córdoba.

Last December, according to El País, Koeman and Riqui They had another cross after calling the technician a “leaker” to the player after certain publications about his departure. That came to nothing and shortly after the youth squad had a few minutes on the pitch again. «If I have something with Riqui and about his game, we talk. There is no problem, “said the Dutchman shortly after, very appeasing. It seems that the waters have returned to their course and that is good for Riqui.