Barca ‘very happy’ with Puig after teen’s instrumental senior debut
Valverde rested some key players for the cup tie and gave Puig his debut.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised young substitute Riqui Puig for the maturity he showed in Barcelona’s 4-1 win over Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.
Puig made his senior debut coming off the bench in the second half as Barcelona eased into the next round with a 5-1 aggregate score.
Valverde hopes it will be the first of many games for the Nou Camp side.
NICE PASS, KID! Barça's 19-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig — who's making his official debut tonight — got his first career assist on Denis's goal a few minutes ago! 💪 pic.twitter.com/orGnd0X2iw— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 5, 2018
“We’re happy with him,” Valverde said in his post-match press conference.
“This is the first step of a long career.
“He is a player who doesn’t hide and who always wants the ball, but you have to be patient with them.
“It was a game in which those with less minutes played. A mixture with players from the B team.
“The opposition didn’t give up even at 3-0 and the atmosphere was great in the stadium.”
Valverde confirmed Malcom, one of Barcelona’s goalscorers on the night, suffered an ankle injury.
The coach said the severity of the injury is unknown, but there is hope it is not a long-term injury.
“He has a sprain,” Valverde said.
“We don’t know how long he’s out for, but he walked off the pitch.
“We’ll have to wait until Thursday, but it’s the ankle that got injured in the summer so he’s a little scared.”
Puig admits the occasion of making his debut was something he had been thinking about for many years.
“It’s a debut I dreamed about,” Puig said to reporters after the game.
“A win and an assist on top of how well the team played.
“I used to come to the Camp Nou when I was three years old, imagining what it would be like to play here.
“Ernesto has given me the opportunity and the reality is a dream come true.”