Five La Masia prospects who could play for Barcelona as Riqui Puig signs contract extension

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Carles Alena is leading the charge of the latest generation of La Masia players.

Barcelona received welcome news on Monday as talented youngster Riqui Puig signed a contract extension to stay at the club until 2021.

Puig has been tipped to join the first team soon, continuing the long line of products from Barca’s famed academy, La Masia, to appear for the club.

Here are five other players currently regarded as among the best La Masia prospects.

CARLES ALENA

The 20-year-old midfielder is one of the brightest prospects to emerge from La Masia in recent years, and with club legend Andres Iniesta having departed there is a chance Alena could be promoted.

He’s already played for the first team on a handful of occasions over the last two seasons, but fans have been clamouring for a full-time promotion. Having top-scored for a struggling Barcelona B side, the time is ripe to give the fans what they want.

Carles Alena is on the verge of a first-team breakthrough.

Carles Alena is on the verge of a first-team breakthrough.

MARC CUCURELLA

Cucurella signed a two-year deal after starring in the B team’s promotion campaign to the second tier of Spanish football in 2016/17. However, since then, he hasn’t quite done enough to earn a first-team promotion.

He’s thought to be a long-term successor to Jordi Alba at left-back. But with Alba 29 and at the peak of his powers and his deputy, Lucas Digne, 24, a France international, a path to the first team may be blocked for now. Cucurella turns 20 this summer and will want to see what his future looks like over the next year.

Marc Cucurella may be wondering if he has a future at Barcelona.

Marc Cucurella may be wondering if he has a future at Barcelona.

SERGI PALENCIA

Captain of Barcelona B, Palencia could solve a problem position for the first team. Barca have yet to find a right-back to replace Dani Alves, having tried converting midfielder Sergi Roberto to the position and then buying Nelson Semedo for the role.

Semedo and Roberto have split time at the position over the past season, but there’s an opening for a player like Palencia to come through. After Alena, Palencia is the likeliest youth product to make the jump up to the first team.

Sergi Palencia has been tracking a well-worn path to the first team.

Sergi Palencia has been tracking a well-worn path to the first team.

ORIOL BUSQUETS

No relation to senior colleague Sergio – although the two players are quite similar. Busquets made his first-team debut in the early stages of the Copa del Rey this season, looking every bit the composed defensive midfielder his namesake is.

His apprenticeship at the B team level continues, but the 19-year-old could soon be the second Busquets in Barca’s senior squad.

There could be another Busquets in Barcelona's first team soon.

There could be another Busquets in Barcelona’s first team soon.

ALEX COLLADO

Alex Collado is rated as one of the best midfield prospects at the club. Along with Busquets and Alena, Collado can expect to see more first-team action soon.

The 19-year-old can play as both an attacking midfielder and as a winger, which makes him an ideal backup to players like Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Alex Collado is the next midfielder up in La Masia's famed production line.

Alex Collado is the next midfielder up in La Masia’s famed production line.

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Live Barcelona Blog: La Liga president makes Antoine Griezmann transfer claim

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Welcome to today’s Barcelona blog. Jay Asser and the rest of the Sport360 team will be with you throughout the day with the latest news, rumours and insights from the Camp Nou.

Our daily blog will ensure you have all the latest updates throughout the week but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

8:10pm – Griezmann is going nowhere

Antoine-Griezmann-Atletico-Madrid

La Liga president Javier Tebas has declared he expects Antoine Griezmann to stay put this summer.

France forward Griezmann, 27, has seen La Liga champions Barcelona long linked to paying the €100 million (Dh432.8m) release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract when it kicks in from July 1 and he said a decision on his future would occur “this week”. The prolific forward’s current employers have also been keen to agree fresh terms.

Read the full story here.

7:10pm – Puig staying put at Barcelona with new deal

Teenage sensation Riqui Puig has inked a new deal with Barcelona, which has a €100million release clause to keep with with the club until 2021.

The 18-year-old was a rumoured target of Tottenham, but the Catalan giants have ensured they’ll hold on to one of their bright prospects for the coming years.

Read more on Puig’s deal here.

0611 Riqui Puig

6:56pm – Deulofeu officially joins Watford

Barcelona and Watford have completed the move for Gerard Deulofeu after the 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Vicarage Road.

Deulofeu scored once in seven appearances for Watford and had struggled to find his footing with Barcelona during his time at Camp Nou.

“We are very pleased to welcome Gerard back to Vicarage Road and thank FC Barcelona for their part in concluding this deal,” Watford chairman Scott Duxbury told the club’s website.

“Our ambition to succeed and grow in the Premier League remains as strong as ever.”

Read more on the move being finalised here.

Gerard-Deulofeu

6:10pm – Messi says he may be finished with Argentina after World Cup

Just days before the start of the World Cup, Lionel Messi dropped a bombshell on the football world by saying his international career may be over after the tournament.

Messi is still in search of his first World Cup triumph, and where Argentina finish this summer may determine his future with the national team.

“It will depend on how far we go, how we’re going to finish” said the Barcelona legend and Argentina captain in an interview with Spanish Daily Sport.

Read more on Messi’s comments here.

Lionel Messi arrives in Russia

2:08pm – Suarez makes his way to Russia with Uruguay team-mates

Barcelona star Luis Suarez is now in Russia with the rest of the Uruguay national team before the start of the World Cup.

Suarez and his team-mates were greeted at the airport by fans requesting autographs and snapping pictures.

Watch the video of Uruguay’s arrival here.

Uruguay

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Riqui Puig signs new Barcelona deal with €100million release clause

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Puig, left, starred in Barcelona's UEFA Youth League triumph.

Talented young midfielder Riqui Puig has signed a new deal with Barcelona that will keep him at the club until 2021.

The 18-year-old starred in the club’s UEFA Youth League title this season, scoring in their 5-4 semi-final win over Manchester City before bossing the final against Chelsea as Barcelona’s Juvenil A team won 3-0.

He was also called up to first team training during the season, fulfilling a dream of training alongside Lionel Messi.

Puig was a rumoured target for Tottenham but has now pledged his future to Barcelona, who have inserted a €100million release clause in his contract.

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