Arnau Puigmal: Things to Know About the Young Spanish Talent

Nov 28, 2020, 3:45 PM GMT
Arnau Puigmal
Barcelona are interested in Puigmal | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Manchester United fans are always keen to see which academy prospect will be next to break into the first team and make an impression.

There is a seemingly never-ending list of players to have come off the Old Trafford production line, with Teden Mengi, Hannibal Mejbri and perhaps even new arrival Alvaro Fernandez often discussed to be next to make the step up. But one player who has quickly thrown himself into this discussion is 19-year-old Arnau Puigmal.

The Spaniard has made an excellent start to the season, but unfortunately for United, his performances haven't gone unnoticed. Barcelona have reportedly shown an interest in the teenager and could look to make a move for him.

But unless you tune in to watch the Man Utd Under-23 on a regular basis, you may be sat there thinking 'I have no idea who this guy is, really'. But fear not, because here we take a look at some key things to know about Puigmal...

1. Contract Situation

Puigmal's performances would be making any club sit up and take notice of him, but with his current contract due to expire at the end of the season as well, it's hardly a surprise to see Barcelona enquiring about the player.

In fact, Sport claim that one of the Catalan giants' priorities for the January transfer window is to strengthen the B squad - and Puigmal is being closely followed.

But even though he will be available on a free transfer next summer, it's claimed Barça will make a move in January to try and bring him in immediately.

However, while Jonathan Shrager has also reported that La Blaugrana are indeed regularly enquiring about Puigmal, it's believed he won't be going anywhere in January.

2. He's Versatile

Arnau Puigmal Martínez
Puigmal can operate in a number of different positions effectively | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

It isn't uncommon at youth level for players to be deployed in a number of different positions. But perhaps what is most exciting about Puigmal is that he's more than comfortable playing in numerous roles - and equally effective.

For the Under-23s so far this campaign, the teenager has been deployed on the right of the midfield, at wing-back, as a central midfielder and as a defensive midfielder.

That's a lot of different positions in just six games.

But it's his reading and understanding of the game which allows him to comfortably operate in these positions, getting forward time and time again to influence the match at his own pace.

3. Scintillating Start to the Season

Puigmal has been in truly outstanding form so far this campaign, so much so that his figures would make for very pleasant reading for any striker - let alone a versatile midfielder.

In just six matches in 2020/21, the Spaniard has managed six goals and two assists. In the Premier League Two, he has five goals and two assists in his last four games.

He has been one of the Under-23s' star performers and has developed his game to become a very well-rounded player now.

Why haven't United handed him a new contract yet?

4. Hasn't Made His Senior Debut Yet - But Has Been on the Bench

Upon signing for United in 2017, Puigmal claimed it was a dream come true to make the switch to Old Trafford, and added that he hoped to be able to break into the first team within five years.

While he is yet to make his senior debut for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, he was part of the squad that travelled to take on Astana in the Europa League in 2019/20. The former Espanyol man was named on the bench for that clash, but didn't come on.

But should he continue to take his chances at Under-23 level in the manner he has been doing, it likely won't be long before Solskjaer will be forced to consider him.

5. He's a Fan of Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba
Puigmal is a fan of Pogba | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Man Utd beat off major interest from Barcelona to land the signature of Puigmal back in 2017, and the long list of stars to have played for the club down the years very much appealed to the youngster when making his decision.

As well as naming Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, the teenager has also revealed his admiration for midfielder Paul Pogba.

While not overly similar in style, Puigmal is an appreciator of the France international's way of playing and ability to dictate games. Despite being a very versatile player who can play on either flank, Puigmal does possess a physicality that can be likened to Pogba.

6. Free-Kick Specialist

What better ways are there to mark your debut for your new club than with a goal? The answer: not many.

Well, Puigmal was able to find the back of the net on his Red Devils bow against Newcastle back in 2017 - but it wasn't any old goal. No, no, no, it was an inch-perfect free kick that flew into the top corner.

It was the perfect way for the Spaniard to announce himself to the United faithful. After this, United coach Kieran McKenna explained that the youngster is always looking to improve his set pieces before, during and after sessions.

“Free kicks are something he likes practicing,” McKenna told United's official website. “He takes them for his national team quite a bit and likes to practice shooting after, before and during training."

He has gone on to net a few more spectacular free kicks at youth level so far, including a stunning strike against Middlesbrough in 2019 which was almost identical to his goal on his debut.

Just watch the video.

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