The January transfer window is almost upon us and the names linked to Arsenal football club seem to grow longer by the day. The latest is Barcelona’s out of favour midfielder Riqui Puig (21) and on hearing the news of yet another player that can’t crack it at one of the biggest clubs in the world, one’s heart starts to sink. Not another cut-price flop who couldn’t make the grade at the highest level!
However, Riqui Puig may turn out to be different. He is currently in a queue with the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Emiliano Buendia, and Julian Brandt and not necessarily at the front but when you start to research the player, it becomes clear that Barcelona’s loss might be someone’s gain.
The 5ft 6inch central midfielder has exquisite close control and can skip through a defence or past a string of opponents with ease. He can face one way, place a foot on the ball, turn and head off in the opposite direction only to repeat the move in reverse.
He’s compact, has excellent balance, and fantastic vision but it’s his passing ability and attacking intent that ticks all the boxes for the current vacancy at Arsenal. He’s a naturally gifted footballer who thrives during possession and the tighter space is, the more he seems to like it. His style of direct and attacking football draws defenders out and creates holes behind which Puig then exploits with a slide rule, a perfectly weighted pass.
The only problem in the Premier League for Riqui Puig would be the physicality of the division. Having said that, he had the measure of Thomas Partey when Barca clashed with Atletico. Puig’s manager, Ronald Koeman offered words of warning regarding the player when he said:
“I like people who work every day to improve, and who take opportunities with both hands.”
“Sometimes it’s not just about quality. There may be players who don’t do enough in training for the coach to give opportunities.”
However, Koeman has a track record of suffering tunnel vision with certain players and one source said that:
“He tends to have problems with players who are naturally gifted, perhaps because he wasn’t”
What Arsenal want to avoid with either a loan or cash deal is another Denis Suarez fiasco, which was probably one of the worst in the North London club’s history.