FC Barcelona have been heavily criticised in recent years for abandoning their famous La Masia academy, but Xavi Hernandez is excited about a youngster who featured for the senior side in pre-season.
Midfielder Riqui Puig, 18, has been chased by some major clubs around Europe after showing tremendous talent playing for Barca’s “B” team.
The La Masia product was recently hailed by AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso as a fantastic prospect, praise that one of Barca’s greatest ever youth products agrees with.
Xavi, who made his debut for the Catalan giants as a teenager in 1998, believes Puig has the ability to achieve greatness.
“I hope Ernesto can give him opportunities when he deserves them,” the four-time Champions League winner told Mundo Deportivo.
“I’d say he’s very prepared to play in the first team of Barca. I am very happy because when I see him playing we can see the total Barca schooling that we like so much.
“(He has) that particular DNA of our game and that is so complex to find in specific players. He sees the play right away, he knows what he has to do at all times and he is intelligent.
“The truth is that he is a boy who breathes talent and who plays easy. He has self-confidence, personality, does not hide and asks for the ball.
“I’m very happy, although, as Valverde says, it’s still very early.”
Puig committed his future to Barca earlier this year by signing a three-year deal, and could very well make his senior competitive debut this season.