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Ernesto Valverde says this is ‘just the first step’ for Riqui Puig at Barcelona

The youngster sparkled on his debut

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde praised teenager Riqui Puig after he made his senior Barcelona debut against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old came on after 55 minutes, 15 minutes later he was setting up Denis Suarez for Barcelona’s fourth goal of the night.

Valverde says this is just the beginning for Puig and also praised the other B teamers who featured against the third division side.

“I gave him the typical instructions. It was a change I’d had in mind. He plays with a lot of freedom, and hopefully this was just the first step of a long and fruitful career.

“It was a big test for the B team players and they responded to it well. I hope they get to play a lot more games in this stadium.”

“This was a great chance to take a look at some of the younger players and the ones that don’t get to play as much. We want to avoid overloading people like Semedo, Busquets and Rakitic with too many games.”

Source | FC Barcelona

Valverde’s comments on Rakitic will raise a few eyebrows. The Croatian started yet again on Wednesday, although it seems as though he may have come in after Arturo Vidal was ruled out before kick-off with a fever.

Still, it was a good night for Barcelona and the youngsters in particular, as Chumi, Oriol Busquets, Juan Miranda and Carles Alena all gained some more valuable first-team game time.

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