Barcelona should now be prepared to let Neymar go. Yes, he’s done ‘this and that’ for the club. And Barca has done ‘that and those’ for the Brazillian. Barca will remember him as a fine player, one who came into the team very much inexperienced but childishly skillful.
Neymar leaving, is a blessing in disguise. At some point, Jay Jay Okocha was allowed to leave PSG, even while he still had the skills and talents. At that point, those playful skills proved too luxurious for direct plays.
Messi, yet skillful, won’t sacrifice entertainment for goals, direct passes, and direct plays. Ronaldinho also comes to mind here. He was also a player that wants to play and entertain all the time. And this came with consequences. One should think, Neymar learns and adjust from the best player in the world, but perhaps, they are of different personalities.
As Neymar leaves, Barca will never get a more playful entertainer to fill that space. But they will get direct awesome wingers like the greats they have always had on that wing, players like David Villa, Pedro and so on.
Sadly, Atletico Madrid won’t consider selling key players at this moment, but Yannick Carrasco would have been a better replacement. He’s a fine winger. The Belgium player can dribble and swing well from the wing. He’s more direct and doesn’t choose fun over positive play.
I know Kylian Mbappe has already stated his love for real Madrid, so wooing him might be a little tough, but so did Luiz Suarez before we got him. I think Barcelona should attempt his capture. The Monaco player is the hottest kid in the bloc as I write. He’s proven to be a good comparison to 18 years old Messi and Ronaldo. Stats even show that the French youngster at 18 has had better performance ratings compared to Messi and Ronaldo of 18.
Should Barca nail Mbappe, they would have hit jackpot and worry less about a player who sacrifices direct plays for entertainment. Modern football has become too serious for such dance and dangle as displayed by Neymar Jnr.
Other players Barcelona appears to look for replacement are;
Philippe Coutinho, initially Barca wanted him as the replacement for Andrea Iniesta. Personally, I think he is more suitable in taking over from Neymar than the Spanish midfielder.
Ousmane Dembele, the kind of players Barca should be gunning for now. At the age of 20, he’s a sack of talent and ready to blossom. I hear he’s already fighting his team mates at Borussia Dortmund. The kind of fight Neymar had with Nelson Semedo. Meaning, he is ready to jump in.
Thomas Lemar, also wanted by Arsenal because he is that kind of player. He would easily fit into both tikitaka-playing teams.
Keita Balde is another player that can do the deal. With 16 goals and 5 assists from last season business, and a fact that he is a La Masia graduate, this dude fits in.
And all these players are not dancers or entertainers. They will work for Barca better. They will win matches.
There’s also a desire to steal Eden Hazard from Real Madrid’s radar and an attempt to do the impossibles and woo Paulo Dybala or Antoine Griezmann.
In my opinion, again, any of these players will mean good business for Barcelona.
And it’s high time, managers of the club do something about the scouts and youths of the La Masia association. Understandably, it became difficult to focus on the graduates from the academy as to fielding them into the first team.
One, in the past 4-5 years or more, there’s been absolutely no vacancy in key areas of the team. As the Barca president rightly said, this started with the likes of Xavi Hernandez, the player was so good that players like Fabregas had to seek a position far outside his Alma Mater.
Two, it takes an era for a team to solidly fit and mature. Especially when such team is built on an unbreakable philosophy. As smooth as TikiTaka is to the sight, it’s difficult to setup, we’ve seen that play out in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Although difficult to build, the benefits are long term and sweet.
Neymar will be remembered, but if Barca nails any of the players discussed in this piece, he won’t be missed.
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