No Neymar? No worries for LaLiga leaders Barcelona, who are more balanced without the Brazilian star, according to Lionel Messi.
Barca lost Neymar in the off-season after French giants Paris Saint-Germain sensationally activated his €222million release clause in August.
Neymar was a key member of Barca’s famed ‘MSN’ forward trio, alongside Messi and Luis Suarez, helping the club to two LaLiga titles and the Champions League among others.
But five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi said Barca – unbeaten and 11 points clear atop the table – are better without the Brazil star.
“Without Neymar we are more balanced,” Messi told World Soccer.
“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 defence.”
Barca are also preparing for the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Chelsea for a spot in the quarter-finals.
However, Messi believes another English side – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – are the team to watch, along with PSG.
“Manchester City are one of the strongest teams in the world at the moment,” the Argentina attacker said. “The same goes for PSG.
“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 till the end. But right now, City and PSG are the best.”