Lionel Messi has made the shock admission that Barcelona are better off without Paris Saint-Germain’s £198million man Neymar.
The Brazilian superstar, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, left the Nou Camp for a record fee in the summer, but Messi doesn’t seem overly concerned about the exit of his good friend.
‘Without Neymar we are more balanced,’ Messi told the Sunday Mirror. ‘His departure led to a change in the way we play.
‘We have lost a lot of our offensive potential but we have improved in defence. We have more balance and this allows us to be more solid.’
In Neymar’s last season at the club, Barcelona finished runners-up to Real Madrid but now — without the 26-year-old — they are flying high at the top.
A new manager is in place in the form of Ernesto Valverde, and the club have opened up a six-point lead in La Liga, with a game in hand to boot.
They are still in the Champions League too, but Messi believes Barca will face some tough competition from an old foe – Pep Guardiola and Manchester City.
‘Manchester City are one of the strongest teams around, as well as Paris Saint-Germain,’ he continued.
‘I also do not exclude Real Madrid in terms of quality and experience, even though they have not yet achieved the expected results.
‘Then there’s Bayern Munich, another great team who will play until the end. Today, however, the best are City and PSG.’