Atletico Madrid have reportedly set their sights on Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig who has been out of favour under manager Ronald Koeman this season.
According to a report from Spanish publication Fichajes, Barcelona youngster Riqui Puig could be the subject of a summer swoop from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid as he stares at an uncertain future at Camp Nou.
Widely regarded as one of the crown jewels of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy, things just have not worked out for Puig at the first-team level. Having made his senior debut in December 2018, it was expected that the central midfielder would kick on and soon establish himself as a regular in the starting XI.
However, that has not been the case as Puig, till date, has managed to make just 36 first-team appearances for Barcelona. While he did seem to enjoy the faith of Quique Setien during the second half of the last season, the 21-year-old has been pretty much out of favour under current head coach Ronald Koeman and has featured in just 11 La Liga games in the entire 2020/21 campaign.
Indeed, youngsters such as Pedri and Ilaix Moriba are now ahead of Puig in the pecking order at Camp Nou, leading to speculations that the 21-year-old could be allowed to leave on loan in the summer in order to continue his development. However, it now seems Barcelona’s title rivals, Atletico Madrid, are willing to offer him a permanent way out of the Catalan outfit in the upcoming transfer window.
Atletico Madrid, who are the current La Liga leaders, are looking for reinforcements in the middle of the park heading into the next season with question marks surrounding the future of Saul Niguez, who interestingly has been linked with a move to Barcelona.
To that end, Los Rojiblancos have recently been credited with an interest in Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who is currently out on loan at Arsenal. Reports have even gone on to claim that Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic, another who player has found game-time hard to come by this season at Camp Nou, has been offered to Diego Simeone’s side.
However, it seems like Atletico Madrid do not want Pjanic but instead have their sights set on Puig. The 21-year-old is said to be not happy with his current situation at Barcelona. And, the fact that his contract will expire in 2023 could force the Catalans to considering a sale and Atletico Madrid are hoping to capitalise on the situation.
The report claims that Simeone is keen on changing the way his team plays and someone like Puig, with his ball-carrying qualities and aggression, can be a good fit into the new scheme of things. It now remains to be seen if Barcelona are willing to sanction the sale of the Spanish Under-21 international this summer, that too to a direct rival.