06 Nov Alumni Rokas Pukstas Signs with HNK Hajduk Split
November 6, 2020
Casa Grande, Ariz –Former Barça Residency Academy player Rokas Pukstas has signed his first professional contract with HNK Hajduk Split, a professional Croatian football club based in the city of Split who competes in the Croatian First Football League also known as Prva HNL or simply HNL.
Pukstas, 16, joined Hajduk Spilt in mid-September and has been competing at a high level with the club’s U-17 team. Pukstas started and scored a goal in his Hajduk Split debut on October 3rd. He has quickly become a key player for Hajduk’s U-17s, playing in virtually every minute since his debut.
Rokas Pukstas has done well in his first games with new club, HNK Hajduk Split (Croatia). Pukstas, formerly of @SKCAcademy and @BarcaAcademyAZ, scored in his debut with the U17 side. The midfielder is a key piece for US U17 Men’s National Team/2004 age group. #USYNT pic.twitter.com/hFPrGicYED
— J.R. Eskilson (@JREskilson) October 4, 2020
Pukstas, a Stillwater, Oklahoma native, joined Barça Residency Academy in January of 2020 just months before the USSDA halted competition due to COVID-19. Pukstas previously spent time with Sporting KC and is a part of the U.S. U-17 Men’s National where he is expected to play a pivotal role in the 2021 U-17 World Cup next October.
“During Rokas’ time here at Barca Residency Academy it quickly became apparent that he was a top talent with very high potential”, said Barça Residency Academy U-17 Coach Chris Harmon. “Rokas added a level of professionalism and competitiveness to training each and every day. It comes to us as no surprise that he was able to make the jump to a top European Academy. We at Barca Academy are very excited to watch Rokas’ progression and next step in his young career.”<br>
Pukstas recently wore jersey #10 against rivals Dinamo Zagreb, showing the club’s confidence in his role within the team now and moving forward.
“Pukstas is one of the most well-rounded center mid prospects in the youth national team systems”, wrote David Kerr with Chasing a Cup. “Pukstas is a cerebral center mid with a pristine first touch who can cover a lot of ground and make plays in the final third…Pukstas is one of the most technically gifted midfielders in the youth national team pool and will consistently be one of the more underrated prospects until he lights up the u17 World Cup next October.”
Rokas becomes the seventh Barça Residency Academy player to sign a professional contract. Following the footsteps of Barça Residency Academy alumni: Matthew Hoppe (Schalke U-23), Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Bryce Duke (LAFC), and seventeen-year-old Caden Clark (NYRB) who is also on the pathway to Europe with an expected move to RB Leipzig in 2022.