Here’s How Losing Neymar Can Be A Good Thing For Barcelona
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I had a coworker at a previous job who always told me no one is irreplaceable. The company has been there for years and it will continue to be there for years, so don’t think for a moment any one employee is bigger than the company. Then he was arrested for diddling a high schooler and I was promoted to his job.
Neymar is not bigger than Barcelona. The Blaugrana will be fine.
No club wants to lose one of its best players. More often than not in soccer, the team with the best players wins out. Barcelona lost one of its best players last week when Paris Saint-Germain paid an absurd amount of money to bring Neymar to the City of Light. But could selling off the Brazilian actually help Barcelona?
There’s no denying in the short term losing Neymar is a setback. Barcelona went from having perhaps the most devastating Cerberus of all time to merely having the greatest player of all time and a really great player alongside him.
But an influx of $263 million can buy a lot of pretty things. Barcelona could use reinforcements and additional squad depth. For the cost of one Neymar, Barcelona could buy a Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele while still having a shot at Philippe Coutinho.
Neymar for Barcelona was a luxury sidepiece. He scored 20 goals and doled out 21 assists in 45 matches with the Blaugrana last season. While those numbers are impressive, Lionel Messi scored 54 goals with 17 assists; Luis Suarez had 38 goals and 18 assists.
Messi and Suarez were the primary avenues of attack while Neymar offered balance and flair. Neymar is no doubt a quality player, but for Barcelona he’s replaceable — assuming the $263M is invested properly.
The club could also have greater harmony with Neymar in Paris. With or without the Brazilian, Messi was and is the star of Barcelona. Neymar’s desire to make his own name may not have meshed with a team built around Messi. Suarez is fine without the limelight; Neymar wasn’t. Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque suggested Barcelona is better off without Neymar because he is a “capricious” character.
Losing Neymar could also give Barca coach Ernesto Valverde more tactical flexibility. No longer is it necessary for him to start three forwards who have little interest in defense. Perhaps now he can deploy Messi and Suarez up top while throwing in an extra midfielder to dominate possession even further or another defender to shore up the back line if necessary.
How Valverde lines up his team will depend upon whom the club brings in with the Neymar cash.
Dembele is currently the hot target for the Catalan club. The Borussia Dortmund starlet has been hailed as the next Ronaldo and the young Frenchman, only 20, still has room for improvement and plenty to prove. He can play on either flank or as an attacking midfielder and would fit into Neymar’s role well and has a higher upside given his age.
It’s possible Barcelona also goes after Mbappe, another young French forward with just as much promise. Mbappe, 18, is likely to end up at either Barcelona or Real Madrid, so the Blaugrana may as well grab him as soon as possible before their rivals snatch him up.
Mbappe would add pace and panache to the Barca front line, making the counterattack even more devastating than it already is.
Barcelona would be fine with either Mbappe or Dembele, but what the club really needs is some fresh legs in the middle of the park. While Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are doing fine for now, Andres Iniesta isn’t getting any younger and behind them the options aren’t nearly as strong. Coutinho would fit in well with the club’s style of play, if Liverpool ever decides to take the boatloads of cash reportedly being offered for him.
If Coutinho can’t be pried away, Tottenham always has a price and Barca could land Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen. PSG likely needs to sell some players so Angel Di Maria and Marco Verratti are both obtainable. Maybe Juventus’ Paulo Dybala wants to link up with his fellow Argentine Messi. There are options available, but Barcelona will likely have to overspend since everyone knows exactly how much money they received for Neymar.
The loss of Neymar was a blow to both the team on the pitch and the psyche of the club as a whole, but no player is bigger than the club. Someone else will take his place and Barcelona will keep on ticking, perhaps even better than before.