Riqui Puig to LA Galaxy: Barcelona star can be "one of the best signings" in MLS history

The LA Galaxy made major headlines as the MLS Secondary Transfer Window formally closed Thursday evening, signing Spanish attacking midfielder Riqui Puig on a free move from FC Barcelona.

Now, how game-changing is landing a 22-year-old La Masia product who’s got two goals and three assists in 57 matches for one of the world’s biggest clubs?

According to Extratime’s Charlie Davies, it’s “an incredible signing” that could be paradigm-shifting for MLS. He raised a couple of questions in light of Puig’s compatriot, though, referencing the New England Revolution’s captain and 2021 Landon Donovan MLS MVP winner.

“For me, the only question is where is his mentality,” Davies said. “Is he coming because he wants to re-find the love of the game? Is this a Carles Gil-type signing, a player who could potentially spend the rest of his career in LA Galaxy if he feels comfortable, if he feels like this is a home and he can play at an MVP level every single season and he's going to give his heart and soul to the club?

“[If yes], then grand slam. This has the potential to be one of the best signings in Major League Soccer history.”

Puig arrives through the 2025 MLS season, and LA used Targeted Allocation Money to land him since their three Designated Player spots are tied up on forwards Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Kevin Cabral and Douglas Costa. Further, Barcelona announced they retain a 50% sell-on fee and the right to repurchase Puig – and LA transferred out midfielder Rayan Raveloson to Ligue 1’s Auxerre to create the funds/space to sign him.

Beyond those technical elements, Extratime’s David Gass feels it’s a bellwether move considering the career juncture Puig is in. He even drew connections to Chicago Fire FC star Xherdan Shaqiri, who came to MLS at 30 years old but a decade ago was a bright, young prospect at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

“It is big because it's different for this league and it potentially puts the league in a new space, which is in a conversation for guys like this,” Gass said. “It's not like-for-like, but what if Shaqiri, when he was at Bayern, came to MLS and not after all of the things he did?

“This is closer to the guy on the outside looking in of some of the top squads in the world, [where] a lot of those players go on to be star players in top-five leagues.”

As the Extratime crew debated, the jury’s still out on whether Puig is what LA need at this point in time. He’s likely to slot into the No. 10 role, playing in front of a midfield base of Gaston Brugman and Mark Delgado, completing a trio LA’s remade in just over seven months in the transfer market.

But the potential is undeniable, Davies argued.

“You're bringing in a player who has the technical ability that ranks among the best already in a team that is desperate for what he provides positionally,” Davies said. “He has the ability to possibly fit into a team and completely change the dynamic of the LA Galaxy and allow them to absolutely flourish.”

LA need a spark after making the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs once from 2017-21, a decline for the five-time MLS Cup champions. And while other teams are making significant moves in a veteran mold, like Toronto FC landing two Italian internationals as DP forwards, LA have gone in another direction profile-wise that MLS teams haven’t necessarily ventured before.

“It's still a huge risk for the Galaxy,” Gass said. “This is not like [Federico] Bernardeschi and [Lorenzo] Insigne, where they are fully-developed players where you know exactly what you're going to get.”

For more Extratime analysis, check out their transfer deadline special here.