LA Galaxy banks on young Barcelona midfielder's rebound in MLS

La Masia product Riqui Puig, who had once been hailed by Leo Messi and touted as the "new Xavi," has joined the Los Angeles Galaxy after 42 LaLiga appearances since his 2019 debut.

The 22-year-old, who appeared 15 LaLiga games, scoring once, during the 2021-22 season, signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Galaxy, which announced it used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for the transfer. Spanish media reported that Puig moved on a free transfer but Barcelona reserved repurchase rights and a percentage of a future transfer.

“We are pleased to welcome Riqui to the LA Galaxy,” said LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney. “Riqui is a very technical and well-educated player with incredible experiences for his age. He will fit seamlessly into our group and style of play.”

The 5-foot-5 Puig helped Barcelona win the 2017-18 UEFA Youth League title and played two LaLiga games during Barcelona's last championship-winning season of 2018-19. But he failed to gain the confidence Barca coaches, Ernesto Valverde, Ronald Koeman and current coach Xavi.

“Riqui is a very talented player with a unique profile that brings something different to our squad,” said LA Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski.

15 comments about "LA Galaxy banks on young Barcelona midfielder's rebound in MLS".
  1. frank schoon, August 4, 2022 at 9:59 p.m.

    I hope he will be a positive influence for our American boys TO LEARN FROM, for this is how I see this kid. WHAT can our boys learn from him and also what separates his unique abilities as a midfielder from our guys. And can our coaches hone and quantify ,right away, these unique midfield abilities in order to teach  our midfielders . No doubt he will add a little bit to our 'library of soccer knowledge' that we so desperately need for our future development of our players, midfielders....

    It will be interesting in trying to observe his manner of handling the ball, how he receives it, his movement with the ball versus his opponents, what his first inclination is upon receiving the ball, his stance in relation to his teammates or opponents, what kind of passes he gives, to the feet or to the space. He will be a refreshing sight to see how his manner of play is compared to what we are used to seeing....

    I hope the American soccer press will ask him more technical questions about what he has learned,  instead of the typical mindless questions of the "Gee ,Gosh, Wow, Really?" variety, which does nothing to further the conversation of soccer...

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, August 5, 2022 at 1:32 a.m.

    I think this player is a real challenge for the LA Galaxy coach, Greg Varney. This is a relatively inexperienced 22 year old player, not a veteran player who just needs to keep doing what he has been doing for years. 

    I wish both the player and the coach well. 

  3. frank schoon replied, August 5, 2022 at 9:27 a.m.

    Bob, this might be challenging to Varney for he is only 22. But I don't look at it that way. He has experience which is at a higher level than Varney is used to handling when it comes to dealing with young American midfielders. It is up to Varney, to see and use what Puig has to the benefit the style of play Galaxy has and more importantly, which can be challenging for Varney, is to separate the higher level aspects of Puig ability for his youth players on the lower levels/divisions and that is what I meant by increasing the soccer library of knowledge

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, August 5, 2022 at 2:29 p.m.

    Frank, that was my concern too. We just said it different ways. I really hope it goes well for Varney and Puig. Both could gain a lot from the experience.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, August 5, 2022 at 2:33 p.m.

    Frank, Varney has experience with MLS development academies. Comparing Puig to the development target of the MLS development academies should tell Varney and others a lot.

  6. frank schoon replied, August 6, 2022 at 11:33 a.m.

    Bob, Damn it! yes we expressed it differently ,although yours is much more effective and concise than mine...

  7. Paul Krieg, August 5, 2022 at 7:49 a.m.

    Not optimistic.  Knock against Puig has been trainability - hard to see how Varney can succeed when Xavi and Setien have not.  

  8. frank schoon replied, August 5, 2022 at 9:44 a.m.

    Paul, you can't compare Puig experiences to that of the Galaxy's, it is apples vs oranges. The level of play is so much more sophisticated and technically more superior at the Barcelona as compared to the MLS. Puig ,simply couldn't meet Barca's demands. Xavi's and Setiens demands were totally different for theirs is at a much higher level, doesn't imply that Varney will likely have the same problems for the Galaxy's situation.... 

    I have no idea what Varney wants out of this player, for Varney is not at even at the level of Xavi, mentally or technically....lets put that first. He is a young player, and I think they need to see what he can bring to the game to benefit Galaxy, directly, and what he can contribute to the younger American players, developmentally speaking, in the longer term Forget what he did at Barca but try to use his experiences for our benefit...

  9. beautiful game replied, August 5, 2022 at 12:24 p.m.

    Technically, Puig is very talented with above average vision, excellent ball control, and speed of play. Biggest weak link is his defense. The perception that Puig lacks trainability is without merit. Xavi has different expectations about every player and what he brings to team execution. It's all about the team DNA. 

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, August 5, 2022 at 2:36 p.m.

    Agree with Frank and BG. Puig didn't fit in (yet) with the Barca first team. There are a world full of excellent international stars who don't fit in with the Barca first team.

  11. Vince Leone, August 5, 2022 at 1:16 p.m.

    Beautiful game has it right--especially about vision and speed of play. RP does not dwell on the ball (at least he did not in La Liga). He obviously needed to get out of FCB, but as an Earthquake fan I hate that he ended up in LA.

    BTW: Greg "Vanney," not "Varney."

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, August 5, 2022 at 2:41 p.m.

    The mistake is entirely my fault.

    To progress Puig needs playing time. This is very much like a loan to a 2nd or 3rd division club. It isn't banishment. Who knows where Puig will be in 4 years.

  13. Santiago 1314, August 6, 2022 at 4:24 a.m.

    Just another sign that Tiki-Taka is Dying Out ... This kid was the Future "Xavi" and even The REAL Xavi couldn't Resurrect him ..  
    As Xavi Moves further and Further away from Lateral Positional Play, to more Direct "Verticality" ; these Spanish(Catalan) Mighty Midgets won't have the "Range" to keep up... Going to be interesting to see how this affects Farça and Spanish National Team.... Farça got to WIN NOW and Beat REAL MADRID, or there Won't be a Club Left in 2 years.!!!

  14. frank schoon replied, August 6, 2022 at 11:29 a.m.

    Santi, Santi, there is no such thing as Tiki-Taki or Total Soccer. If there were we would have books written on it before it ever began...Like Wim Jansen stated in his autobiography, that Total Soccer is a made up term brought about by journalists who never played nor understand the game. As a  matter of fact, non of his dutch teammates on the'74WC heard of or expressed a concept that represented 'Total Soccer". He also stated he doesn't credit Rinus Michels for the soccer the Dutch displayed at WC'74, but the players, themselves. He stated , the Dutch had the best players in the world at that time which resulted in domination of dutch soccer. The dutch between 1969 and 1974 won the Intercontinental Cup twice( Toyota Cup), once with Ajax and once with Feyenoord and also Feyenoord won the European Cup and Ajax won it 3x. This resulted in a crescendo of brilliant display of soccer by these players representing these 2 cubs at WC'74.

    Likewise Tiki-Taka is a BS term employed or created by journalist who know little about the game of soccer as shown for example by our soccer journalists. Guardiola took the principles of soccer that were displayed by Cruyff at Ajax as well what was shown to the world in WC'74 with the Dutch and Cruyff... One of the principles, is to possess the ball, making the opponents go after it , resulting in creating spaces left by the opponents. Since Xavi played on the right side as the control center , drawing opponents to him causes open space on the left side....Xavi was smart enough to take advantage of the space left open on the other side and that perhaps represented to you as lateral movement, but should better interpreted as creating space. That was the major principle Guardiola followed, looking for those open spaces. 

    As far as 'direct verticality' goes, that depends upon where the space is created forwards. Mourinho, created parking the bus defense when he was with RM in order to counter Barcelona style soccer. So where can you employ 'direct verticality' if all the opponent's 'en masse' park their
    asses in front of their goal. So what is left is the space on the flanks to be used and hopefully attacking there results in a defensive shift , open space. Many teams followed Mourinho's parking the bus style defense in trying to stop Barca for there was no counter measure since Barca controlled possession

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, August 6, 2022 at 3:15 p.m.

    Santi, Barca is so badly managed that winning this year isn't going to save it. Management's reaction was to put the club deeper into the red. Deficit spending doesn't work for businesses.

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