How Neymar’s Departure Is Working In Barcelona’s Favour
After weeks of speculation, Neymar Jr. put an end to the soap opera regarding his transfer and switched to big money splashing Paris St. Germain for a world record €222million. A lot had been said and written. Articles like how Barcelona would rue this missed opportunity, how they lost one of the best footballers in the world hogged the media headlines.
Fast forward a month. Barcelona are on a staggering run of form in the league and Champions League, toying around with their opponents for fun. Sure, Barcelona may have lost the Supercopa to Real Madrid 5-1, but Ernesto Valverde seems like he has a clear plan now and it is evident from the statistics as well. 4 games played, 4 matches won, 12 goals scored, none conceded. And Barcelona look as entertaining now as they have been in quite a long while.
Before going into a more detailed discussion, it must be addressed that Barcelona rely more on their natural team game and midfield dominance than individual quality (the case of Leo Messi is arguable, of course). This is the reason why Pedro, obviously being a player of less talent compared to Neymar was more effective in his time at Barcelona than the Brazilian.
With Neymar gone, there is no one to hog the ball on the left wing and showboat around opponents. Neymar had a horrible record at losing possession and wasting chances. This led to the opponents counter attacking Barca and even scoring at times. And because of that, Jordi Alba and Iniesta had to spend a lot of time providing cover for Neymar. Just watch Barcelona’s last two games and you’ll understand the difference.
Iniesta is back to his magical best again and Alba is on a rollicking form simply, because nobody is ignoring their runs and/or losing possession 45 times a match.
Also, with Neymar gone, the focus has been shifted to Barca’s midfield again and the results and quality of their performances are a testament to the fact as to why the midfield is Barca’s treasured gem. Luis Suarez has pushed himself wide to the left, which has allowed Messi to shift to the centre of the park. His scoring streak speaks volumes at how godly he is in that False 9 role.
Neymar, being the spectacular talent that he is, has also been a subject of controversy and criticism. From missing games in order to attend his sister’s birthday party, making silly challenges and getting booked to having a spat with his opponents, Neymar was not showing the maturity that was expected from a player of his stature. Cules will remember how Neymar missed the last El Clasico in La Liga because of two idiotic bookings in the previous game.
In a nutshell, yes, Neymar is a beast who scores and assists for fun. Yes, he was the man responsible for our “Remontada”- the greatest comeback in Champions League history. However, with that being said, Barcelona, as a collective unit, are doing better off without him.