Koeman recommends loan move for Barcelona prodigy Riqui Puig

Riqui Puig BarcelonaGetty

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has told Riqui Puig he should leave the club on loan.

Puig, 21, has been linked with a move from Barca, and played no part in Saturday's 1-0 Joan Gamper Trophy win over Elche at Camp Nou.

The young midfielder joined La Masia in 2013 and made his La Liga debut in early 2019 before making 12 appearances in all competitions for the first-team last season. 

Koeman said while Puig was part of his plans, the midfielder should look for short-term opportunities elsewhere.

"It's not true that [Riqui Puig] is not in our plans. I spoke to him yesterday. I speak to the young players - they have to play. They can't not be playing," Koeman said via Marca.

"Him, [Carles] Alena, Pedri...I've told them that it's difficult for them and there's lots of competition. Nothing more.

"I've told [Riqui Puig] that he has a future here, but it depends on the player.  I'd recommend that he went out on loan. At 20 years of age, the young players have to play. They can't get stuck for a period of time."

Antoine Griezmann's early goal helped Barca past Elche, as the forward, Ansu Fati, Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho all started.

Coutinho is back from his loan spell at Bayern Munich and Koeman talked up the playmaker.

"Let's hope we can see a great version of him. For me, he's a great player," he said. "He works well physically and with the ball. He's an important player for the team."

The Brazilian himself was happy to be back at Camp Nou and seems determined to have a big impact at the club this season. 

"Well, I am very happy. I missed playing in this stadium," Coutinho told Barca TV post-match. 

"First game back in the Camp Nou and the official competition will start in one week, we are working really hard and we are focused on the new season. 

"I was really looking forward to playing at the Camp Nou again. I am very happy and working hard to start the season well. I have been feeling great and just hoping that my return to Barcelona goes well. I’m highly motivated." 

Barcelona will begin their La Liga season against Villarreal on September 27.

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