The importance of Lionel Messi to this Barcelona team is difficult to describe. The Catalans have a formidable team with many stars and yet, when Leo is on that pitch they just look different.
Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is that Messi’s invaluable presence makes them better, more dangerous and more feared by the opposition and in most cases, that would certainly be true. However, there is seemingly an argument to be made for the opposite as well.
This Sunday, Barcelona will face Elche in LaLiga and their coach, Jorge Almirón, has made an interesting statement in the build-up to the clash, as quoted by SPORT: “Barcelona without Messi play in a different way, more structured.”
Of course, Almirón also made sure to compliment Leo, saying he’s the best player in the world, but this remark is quite interesting, to say the least. Barcelona will be without the Argentine on Sunday as he is still serving the two-game suspension as a result of his direct red card against Athletic Club in the Supercopa.
Not many would say the Catalans are better without Messi, and Almirón’s statement should also not be taken out of context, but maybe there is some truth to that.
After all, with him on the pitch, every ball is always looking for him and every attack starts and ends with the Argentine, for better or worse. For all his ingenuity, ‘give the ball to Leo’ doesn’t exactly sound like a sound structure and him being absent could force the squad to adapt and work as a team even more.
One way or the other, the first game without Messi was a rather difficult Cup tie against UE Cornellà and Leo’s presence was sorely missed. Still, the Catalans persevered and will be looking to do the same on Sunday against Elche.
Messi will, once again, have to watch from afar but maybe, just maybe, that is for the best and Barcelona could gain something out of the experience.
Hopefully, they do it while getting an all-important win along the way too.
Just in: Neymar’s entourage confirms renewal with PSG as he ‘likes the project’
Fabrizio Romano has broken huge news as part of Neymar’s contract situation with Paris Saint-Germain, which all but officially announces that the Brazilian will be staying in France, contrary to what has been reported recently. The report suggests that that he will sign his extension soon, which is bound to include a massive UCL bonus.
Neymar’s entourage have confirmed his decision to stay with the Paris outfit in conversation with France Football, saying, “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project.”
Neymar is expected to sign soon his new contract with Paris Saint-Germain until June 2026, huge UCL bonus confirmed too. His entourage just announced to France Football: “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project”. 🇧🇷 #PSG https://t.co/LMnrpctSkx— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 12, 2021
PSG have, in fact, actually enjoyed success in Europe in the recent past. They reached the Champions League final last season, crumbling only to the unstoppable Bayern Munich by a mere one goal to nil. Since then, they have fired Thomas Tuchel, and hired Mauricio Pochettino, who inspired an incredible victory against Bayern in this season’s Champions League quarters. Spearheaded by Neymar and Mbappe, the capital-side hit the defending champions for three goals, conceding two.
Despite their lead in the UCL, they do not have a stronghold on the trophy with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Real Madrid still in the running. It becomes a lot more problematic when you realise their situation in Ligue 1.
PSG look far from comfortable in the league, which is a shocker to say the least. As it stands, Pochettino’s mean are in second place with 66 points, three adrift of Lille who top the table with one of the most impressive defensive records in Europe.
A season without either of the big trophies might force Neymar to have a change of mind, with the Barcelona project looking much more comprehensive under Joan Laporta. In fact, the new President might look at the Brazilian as the key that will allow Lionel Messi to stay at the club. We do the same rumours annually, so it is only fair if any of these ‘confirmations’ are turned on their head in the coming weeks.