Former coach Gerard Lopez says Barcelona’s mishandling of Riqui Puig halted progress

Few figures have divided opinion amongst Spanish football fans as Riqui Puig. The minute Barcelona midfielder seemed to become a lightning rod for discussions that had as much to do with others as they did him.

At 22 years of age, Puig appears to have accepted that he will have to leave in order to play. Recent rumours have linked him to LA Galaxy and on Tuesday evening Puig did not train with permission from the club.

Even still, the debate about his merits rages on. Former B team manager Gerard Lopez spoke to Catalunya Radio about the issue and believes Puig’s failure to win a place at Camp Nou isn’t all down to him.

“Riqui [Puig] did not triumph at Barca due to a lack of opportunities.”

“With confidence he would have grown and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s true that he wasn’t used too much by either Koeman or Xavi. I do believe he was an ideal player for Barcelona. With Ronald, above all, he didn’t have chances. Managers, sometimes, we are very special.”

“With Quique Setien was the time when he felt best and I remember that game in Vitoria against Alaves when he was the best [player].”

Mundo Deportivo carried the quotes and Lopez continued on to say that he thought Puig was treated differently from other players.

“I feel bad because Riqui has talent. It seemed like he had to show more than others. He has been criticised without having played. Others have played that haven’t performed as well. He has either had people backing him or criticising him strongly, he could have done with a middle point.”

While it seems clear that Puig is not good enough to win many minutes in this incarnation of Barcelona, there may be a kernel of truth in Lopez’s words. His best performances came during his initial months in the first team and since Puig has gradually looked further and further from the required level as months passed by without regular game time.

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