A dressing room showdown occurred between the Barcelona boss and promising young midfielder Riqui Puig, according to a report from El Pais.
According to the report in Spain, head coach Ronald Koeman told Riqui Puig in anger he was “a leaker” in front of a divided dressing room, after having told him early on he would not be counting on the talented young midfielder this season and that he was free to leave on loan.
This has been a tumultuous reign at Camp Nou for Koeman and that conversation swiftly became public knowledge, which reportedly frustrated Koeman and led to the alleged showdown.
El Pais reported on Sunday that the Dutchman was annoyed about how quickly details about his decision on Puig made it into the media.
Koeman labelled Puig, 21, “a leaker” and questioned his attitude before his team-mates before he was sent to the stands for the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Elche.
The dressing room reaction was said to be divided with some senior players nursing general concerns about the attitude of the club’s younger players and backed Koeman, who had just replaced Quique Setien, while others felt there had been double standards because Koeman’s phone call with veteran striker Luis Suarez about finding a new team had also been widely reported.
Suarez went on to join Atletico Madrid soon after. Despite Barca’s struggles this season, Puig has yet to start a match this season, having only come on as a substitute once in La Liga and three times in the Champions League.
Koeman, reportedly keen to ship Puig out on loan together with Carles Alena in the January transfer window, has attracted criticism from some quarters in maintaining his steadfast stance over Puig. Puig had been developing a big reputation at La Masia immediately after bursting on to the scene at the Camp Nou last season, impressing with his performances after La Liga recommenced after lockdown.
After taking over, Koeman told the club hierarchy he planned to favour a two-man midfield of Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic, as well as asking them to pursue the signing of Gini Wijnaldum from Liverpool.