Pros and Cons of Riqui Puig
Above all, Puig is a wonderful talent. In a Barcelona side that are struggling this season, it’s puzzling not to see more of Puig in La Liga. Sergio Busquets isn’t easily taken out of the side and neither is Frenkie de Jong, however, the lack of involvement even later in matches is a head scratcher.
Coming through the famed La Masia academy, he boasts all the qualities one could expect from a player of his ilk: confidence on the ball is matched with bravery off it, while his close control and technical ability in tight areas is exemplary.
With Arsenal in need of someone who can be progressive in the centre of the park. Despite playing a measly 21 minutes of La Liga action this season, Puig still performs well statistically, averaging 13.3 passes per 90 minutes into the final third (Fbref), the most of any Barça player by some distance.
This, of course, comes with the caveat that he’s been thrown into matches where his side are dominating, so the absolute value of those statistics can be somewhat misleading. However, it’s an indication of his intentions, which are always to be positive on the ball and look forward.
In the cases where he can’t move the ball up through the thirds with his distribution, he’l gladly do the dirty work himself where his dexterity helps him glide beyond opponents with the ball at his feet. Technically competent, his dribbling is eye-catching.
The potential negatives of him joining are clear, though. On a short-term deal, the 21-year-old Catalonian heading to England in the dead of winter coughs up memories of Denis Suarez‘s ill-fated spell in north London. Unable to adapt to the league, methods and instructions, injuries eventually played their part and he had zero impact.
How long would it be until Arsenal got to see the best of Puig? While there is every chance he could hit the ground running, his integration and adaptation could mean it’s months before Arsenal get a glimpse of his brilliance.
All that aside, bodies are needed in that area, central midfielders who can provide the progressive traits that many of the current options can’t. Puig isn’t a No. 10, but he’d thrive in a midfield trio that could allow Emile Smith Rowe chance to rest.
If available on a loan deal, Arsenal wouldn’t have much to lose, not least since he’s only wages rumoured to be hovering around the £30k-per-week mark. One to look out for.