After a disappointing last season, Barcelona is unbeaten and 11 points clear atop in La Liga and the Argentine believes this is due to a more stable team since Neymar left for PSG.
Did losing Neymar actually helped Barcelona? Lionel Messi seems to think so.
Neymar moved from Barca to French giants Paris Saint-Germain when they activated his record-breaking €222million release clause in August. Before the move, Neymar was a key member of the forward trio famed as ‘MSN’ alongside Messi and Luis Suarez.
During his time at Barca Neymar helped the club win two La Liga titles and the Champions League. They performed badly last season, but this season they are unbeaten and 11 points clear of the second position Atletico Madrid and 16 clear of defending champion Real Madrid. This improved performance is credited to a more balanced team by five-time Ballon d’Or winner and he believes they are better without the Brazil star.
Messi told World Soccer:
“Without Neymar, we are more balanced,”
“His departure meant a change in our way of playing, we lost a lot of attacking potential, but it helped in the defensive sense.
“We are currently very well armed in the midfield; this makes us stronger in defense.”
Next challenge for Barca will be last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Chelsea for a spot in the quarter-finals. Others teams to look out for according to Messi are Manchester City along with Neymar’s PSG.
According to Messi “Manchester City and PSG are among the strongest teams in the world at the moment”.
“However, there’s a lot of football still to play and I don’t rule out Real Madrid yet as they have a lot of quality and experience. Then there’s Bayern Munich, another great team who will fight until the end. But right now, City and PSG are the best.”
On Sunday Barcelona has a La Liga face of with Alaves and then Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Valencia on Thursday.