Napoli Interested in Out-of-Favour Barcelona Midfielder

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By Martin Graham | 28th Feb 2022

Serie A giants Napoli are reportedly interested in signing out of favour Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig.

According to a report by Spanish transfer outlet Fichajes, Riqui Puig is the subject of interest from Napoli as they prepare for a possible exit of Fabian Ruiz, who has also emerged as a transfer target for Barcelona in recent weeks.

Riqui Puig has been stubborn about his Barcelona career regardless of all the calls from friends, family veterans and influential figures within Barcelona for the young midfielder to seek playing time elsewhere.

He has chosen instead to keep fighting for his place, but has been unable to convince the last two managers of Barcelona in Ronald Koeman and Xavi Hernandez, who have preferred youngsters Nico Gonzalez and Pablo ‘Gavi’ Gavira over the former Barcelona B captain.

Fichajes reports that Barcelona value the 22-year-old at €10 million and maybe open finally to a sale.

The midfielder joined La Masia from UFC Jabac Terrassa as a 14 year old in 2014 and rapidly progressed within the ranks at the club.

At 18, he became the captain of Barcelona B, the club’s second second team that plays in the lower divisions of Spanish football.

His talents were noticed by then coach Ernesto Valverde who incorporated him into the senior squad and give him a good run of minutes. He impressed under Valverde and also kept the faith of replacement Quique Setien.

However, Koeman and Xavi have not given the midfielder enough opportunities to impress the way he did under Valverde and Setien, such that Barcelona had to step in at a point, ordering the coaches to give minutes to the midfielder who they saw as an important piece in their future puzzle.

Puig set to leave Barcelona in the summer as contract runs up

Puig has managed just 363 minutes of game-time across 13 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona in the ongoing campaign. And with little under 18 months left on his contract, the player is poised to leave Barcelona in the summer.

Several clubs have been linked with Puig in recent months, and Napoli are the latest club to show interest in the young midfielder. Puig had a cameo appearance against the Partenopei in their UEFA Europa League fixture at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona where Barcelona ran out victors to progress to the round of 16 stage of the tournament.

The Serie A league leaders’ interest in Puig stem from the uncertainty surrounding the future of Fabian Ruiz who is more likely than not to depart the club in the summer transfer window.

Puig’s Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are among the clubs keen on signing Fabian Ruiz and his departure will leave a gaping hole in Napoli’s midfield.

Fichajes reports that Barcelona will not stand in the way of any club who wants to negotiate with Puig as they currently do not know how else to handle the midfielder’s situation at the club.

Offloading Puig also could help Barcelona recoup some much-needed funds in their pursuit of setting summer transfer targets, one of which is Ajax Amsterdam’s Ryan Gravenberch.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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