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Lionel Messi was left 'astonished' after watching Riqui Puig in Barcelona training

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Remember the name, Riqui Puig.

Barcelona have a rising star on their hands in Puig, the 19-year-old midfielder who looks destined for a bright career at the Camp Nou.

In August, AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso labelled Puig “spectacular” after his performance in a pre-season fixture against the Serie A club.

"I heard about him a while ago, and about some of the other kids at the club,” Gattuso said, per ESPN.

“It's the kind of thing you can't really copy and paste. It's something that takes years to do. It's how they feel the game.”

The Spaniard made his first team debut in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, coming off the bench in a 4-1 win against Cultural Leonesa.

And he didn’t disappoint. Puig provided a fine assist for Denis Suarez with a pass that journalist Andy West described as being “rather Xaviesque”.

Messi was astonished by Puig in training

Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Puig trained with Barcelona’s first team last season and left an impression on Lionel Messi.

According to Spanish outlet Sport, Messi was one of a few Barca players left 'astonished' by Puig in the sessions.

Sport write: “These situations are shaping the personality of a footballer who brings top quality and has a privileged vision of the game.

“Messi quickly realised that after Riqui started going to some training sessions with the first team last season.

“He wanted him at his side and, of course, the kid was happy to have his idol in front of him and on top of that, that he gave him the ball.

“He was not the only one who was astonished. Luis Suárez, [Andres] Iniesta - a player whom he has many resemblances towards - were also captivated by his football.”

Imagine leaving Messi, Suarez and Iniesta captivated with your talents. Puig was probably in dreamland.

Following his 35-minute cameo against Cultural Leonesa, Ernesto Valverde is facing calls from Barcelona fans to play Puig more often.

It's worth pointing out that AC Milan legend Daniele Massaro joined Gattuso in praising Puig after his performance against the Italians in August.

"We could be looking at the new Iniesta!” Massaro said, per Barcelona's website.

A midfield trio of Arthur, Carles Alena and Puig one day? That doesn’t sound bad at all.

Watch: Puig's highlights

Topics:
Football
Ernesto Valverde
La Liga
Barcelona
Lionel Messi

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