LaLigaTV pundit and Barcelona legend Albert Ferrer says that it will take a "collective effort" to replace Lionel Messi at Camp Nou - but that emerging talent in LaLiga will keep it as a top league in world football.
Messi departed for Paris Saint-Germain seemingly out of the blue after agreeing a new deal with Barca. But while Memphis Depay has arrived in Catalonia, Antoine Griezmann could well see an increased role in the team and youngster Pedri has become one of the most exciting young players in Spain in the last 18 months, Ferrer thinks that all three need to step up at once for Ronald Koeman, if they're going to be the top scorers in the league again this season after hitting 85 last term.
“It’s going to be a big miss for Barcelona,” Ferrer said of Messi's exit, shortly before Barcelona beat Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou in the weekend's LaLiga opener. “Messi is the biggest player in football and he’s been there for 17 seasons. Barcelona, somehow, have been depending on him for a lot.
“But I don’t think anyone will take 'the Messi role' - it will be a collective effort because at the end of the day, there’s only one Leo Messi.
“So there might be some players who can make the step forward - but it’s a team effort as I said. We won’t see the same players shining every week. One game it might be Memphis Depay who steps up, or Antoine Griezmann or even Frenkie de Jong or Ansu Fati when he comes back.
“It’ll be interesting as to how Barcelona compete without Leo Messi. I’m looking forward to seeing it - I think it’s going to be an interesting season.”
Ferrer played in Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' of the 1990s, winning the European Cup and multiple LaLiga titles, before playing a season each under Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal for the club. Despite the uncertainty facing Barca these days with their talismanic figure having left, however, Ferrer says that there's reason to be positive about the club - and about the state of LaLiga in general.
“It’s going to be exciting because the average age of the Barca team is very low - I think it’s 24, I think,” he said. “There are young talents there, very good players and it’s going to be interesting to see how they rebuild the team without someone who’s been there for a very long time. It’s going to be nice to see the evolution of Barcelona.
“There are a lot of players that I’m looking forward to watching. All teams have good players - of course, we saw what happened in the first game of Real Madrid beating Alaves 4-1. Benzema was outstanding.
“Barcelona have players like Pedri, who had a big impact last season. And I’m sure that Memphis Depay will improve them. The improvement of Frenkie De Jong is big, too. There are a lot of players in the league that are going to keep LaLiga as one of the top leagues - especially with a lot of good youngsters coming through.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.