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Barcelona Midfielder Riqui Puig has reportedly reached a verbal agreement to sign with MLS side LA Galaxy, according to Albert Rogé of Relevo.
Puig, 22, is a name that many fans have heard before. After graduating La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy that produced world-class talents like Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and more, there was a significant buzz around the Spanish youngster. In July 2020, just days after being promoted to the first team, Puig was given a $27.50m market value, his highest valuation to date. Following three seasons where Puig failed to find consistent playing time with the Catalonians, his market value has dropped quickly, with Transfermarkt listing his current market value at just $7.70m.
The youngster was never able to find his footing with Barcelona. During his three-year stint with the club, Puig made 59 appearances with the first team, scoring just two goals and tallying three assists in 1,937 minutes. Puig also spent considerable time with Barcelona’s B team in the Spanish Second Division. The MLS is an opportunity for Puig to see more consistent playing time and distance himself from the pressures of living up to the La Masia legends before him.
At LA Galaxy, Puig will hope to ignite the team for their end-of-the-season push. He is joined by former European stars Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Douglas Costa. With 12 games remaining, the Galaxy currently sit in 8th place in the Western Conference and are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture. LA has a game in hand over the teams above them in the standings, and they only trail 4th seeded FC Dallas by five points. If Puig can make an immediate impact on the squad, LA can not only jump into the playoffs but into a home playoff game if they can finish top four in the conference.
This signing is significant because it improves LA Galaxy’s squad and also reflects the growth in quality that the MLS has shown in recent years. The MLS has historically been known for bringing in older European players at the end of their careers like LAFC have done this summer with Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. The league is not known for bringing in young European talent like Puig. Additionally, more homegrown MLS talent than ever before is leaving for the bigger stage in Europe. These new trends signify the rise of the MLS on the world stage.
Whether or not Puig looks to have a long career in LA is uncertain, but he will be a fun player to watch in the coming years.