Riqui Puig Represents A New Type Of Transfer For MLS

Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Riqui Puig Represents A New Type Of Transfer For MLS


Riqui Puig Represents A New Type Of Transfer For MLS


Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Since David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy 15-years-ago, the MLS has been a popular destination for once prevalent European stars. 

Over time, the age of these players has been steadily dropping and the ability of these stars has been improving, with the likes of 33-year-old Gareth Bale going to LAFC and 28-year-old Fernando Bernadeschi going to play with the Toronto FC despite still being more than capable of playing in Europe as proof of this sentiment. 

During the final day of the MLS’ summer transfer window a new form of foreign import entered the MLS. A fallen wonderkid, who still can compete in Europe’s top leagues and has superstardom not completely out of his grasp rebuffed enticing offers to ply his trade in the MLS. 

Leave it to none other than LA Galaxy to pull off such a feat, with the club officially announcing the addition of once heralded Barcelona youngster Riqui Puig from the Spanish side. 

“We are pleased to welcome Riqui to the LA Galaxy,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney said of the 22-year-old midfielder in a press release. “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.”

Who is Riqui Puig, what happened?

Riqui Puig made his debut for Barcelona’s first-team as a 19-year-old in the 2018-19 campaign. A graduate of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy — the same system that nourished Messi, Xavi, Pep Guardiola among many other famous names, he had been watched around Europe since long before he first took the pitch for the senior side.  

Puig is undersized at five-foot-five, but his technique and flair on the ball was reminiscent of many successful academy graduates before him. 

Per usual, an enormous amount of hype and expectations ensued as many watched eerily at the potential of the Spanish youth international. 

In the 2019-20 season Puig produced two assists in 510 minutes of La Liga game time and once again flashed the ability to turn into one of the world’s elite. 

The makings of a true maestro with the flair and highlight reel passing ability made to be displayed on team’s social media were there. 

This was as good as it got, as no matter how much Puig fought for his spot, even rejecting chances to go on loan under Ronald Koeman before he was fired, he never truly broke through. 

When Koeman was replaced by the aforementioned Xavi as manager, someone who fans hoped would understand how to grasp Puig’s talents, expectations remained high. 

Yet, Xavi never seemed to be enthralled with the young midfielder, only giving him 474 minutes last season as other Barcelona starlets came into the limelight. 

This season, Xavi made it clear Puig was not in his plans. And despite offers from Lyon and Monaco, two of France’s biggest clubs, as well as interest from around Europe, the 22-year-old decided to the shock of many, to try and kickstart a still promising career in America.

Where does LA stand now?

LA has a pair of potent strikers with 22-year-old Dejan Jovelcic and MLS All-Star, as well as former Manchester United and Mexico star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The two have combined for 16 of the Galaxy’s 30 goals this season, carrying their team to the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. 

Luckily for Los Angeles, there are only six teams in the 28-team league who have given up less goals than them this season. 

The issue for Los Angeles, who sit in ninth place and two points out of a spot in the playoffs, is that they lack a true creator in the midfield. 

With Raheem Edwards leading the team with six assists, the Galaxy lack a midfield presence who has the technical talent, vision and most importantly confidence, to advance the offense and make defenses quake with fear. 

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

Kirovski could not be more correct, but Puig doesn’t just bring something different to this Galaxy team. He brings a skill set unique in the MLS that will become a necessity for Los Angeles as they try to once again be one of the Western Conference’s elite. 

Puig’s signing is not only a statement for the Galaxy, who made the original overseas splash 15-years-ago, but a statement for the MLS as a whole. 

It may not be the Premier League, Serie A or La Liga, but American soccer is no longer where Europe’s finest talents go to die. 

The MLS is not the retirement league it once was, it’s finally a soccer league that deserves respect. 


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