There’s been plenty of talk about Riqui Puig once again this season, but the 21-year-old looks set to finally make his first Barcelona start of the season on Thursday as the club kick off their 2020-21 Copa del Rey campaign at Cornella.
So far this season the youngster has been told to go out on loan, insisted he wants to stay, been accused of being a dressing room leak, made six appearances off the bench and scored a decisive penalty in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup.
Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman has hinted Puig doesn’t work hard enough in training, admitted he’s fed up with seeing headlines about the youngster and played down talk of any kind of rift between the two.
What is clear is that Puig doesn’t seem to have done enough to convince Koeman, but he certainly has the chance against Cornella. Koeman should make plenty of changes and a strong performance from Puig could go a long way.
Cornella certainly won’t be pushovers, as their win over Atletico Madrid in the last round proved, but Barca should have enough quality to win, particularly seeing as Barca B beat Cornella 1-0 just over a month ago.
Youngsters such as Konrad de la Fuente, Ilaix Moriba and Alex Collado all featured in that match, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that some, if not all, of the trio could also feature at some point on Thursday.
Koeman is also expected to start players such as Junior Firpo and Francisco Trincao and offer the duo rare starts. Junior has been tipped to leave for some time but the latest rumors suggest he could now see out the season.
Trincao is also desperately in need of a goal or a performance or just something to get his Barcelona career going. The youngster arrived at the Camp Nou amid high expectations after impressing for Braga but so far has looked timid and offered very little.
Barca are in a season of transition and have already seen youngsters such as Ronald Araujo, Pedri, and Oscar Mingueza step up and shine in the first team. Thursday’s match is another opportunity for the club’s youngsters to provide more hope for the future.