On the 4th of July 2017, Neymar completed the biggest transfer in history as he signed for Paris Saint-Germain for a whopping 222million Euros. The Brazilian signed a lucrative 5-year deal with the French giants just in time for the new Ligue 1 season. The monumental transfer has left Barcelona with a whole heap of problems, problems that were evident in the team’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid on Sunday.
Here are 5 key challenges Barcelona face after Neymar’s departure.
No appropriate replacement for the Brazilian
Whether Barcelona fans want to admit it or not, Neymar is the 3rd best player on the planet today. His impact on Barcelona cannot be measured because it’s not just about scoring goals. His presence alone scares defenders into making mistakes, his presence also lures opposing teams towards him instead of Messi, thus freeing up space for the Argentinean. Not many players in world football can have such an effect both on and off the ball.
Set to fall further behind Real Madrid
Last year Barcelona had to sit back and watch their bitter rivals lift both the La Liga and Champions League. It was a sad year for the Catalonians and the departure of Neymar will only further impound that misery.
Losing your 2nd best player will not go anyway to reducing the gap appearing between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Los Blancos were head & shoulders the best team in the world last season, the sale of Neymar means that that’ll be the case for another season.
What formation should now be used?
In the entirety of last season, Luis Enrique used three formations; 4-3-3. 4-2-3-1 and the 3-4-3. He used these formations in order to add flexibility to an already talented side. The loss of Neymar instantly takes away Barcelona’s width as the MSN trio used to stretch opposing defences. Now the new boss Ernesto Valverde must find a system that maximises the qualities of Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi, a front two may be the way forward.
Last season the Brazilian scored 20 goals and provided 27 assists in 45 appearances, that’s just under a goal a game. On top of that, Neymar created 102 chances in those games for his teammates. His influence is second to none and his absence will affect the whole team’s effectiveness going forward, with or without Messi. Such a contribution could only be replicated by a few select in world football.
Who will take the weight off Messi’s shoulders?
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly Barcelona’s golden boy, he’s the man that the club revolves around. Without his approval or say-so, things don’t get done at the Nou Camp. But even the great man can have low moments. Last season, there were several moments when the Argentinean couldn’t seem to produce his normal ounces of magic, so instead, Neymar did.
The most memorable match of the 2016/17 campaign was Barcelona’s epic 6-1 win over PSG, that comeback wasn’t inspired by Messi – Neymar orchestrated it. The Brazilian scored two goals and assisted a 3rd in the last 7 minutes of the match, while Messi hid in the shadows. Who will be the one to step up when Messi can’t?