Comparisons are a vital part of sports. We can't set our eyes on a new talent without immediately pointing to who that player reminds us of, like the Leonardo Di Caprio meme from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I do it too, so I wish I had an answer for why we can't escape the jaws of a player-comp,...
Far-Fetched Friday: FC Barcelona to Be Better Without Lionel Messi
It still doesn't feel quite true that Lionel Messi has left Barcelona. Maybe that's because he has yet to play a game for PSG, or maybe, it's the 21 years he spent at the club compared to how quickly his departure developed. Either way, Messi is gone, and Barcelona must move on.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the state of football at a club that may never be the same.
It is my belief that this FC Barcelona team will be better without Messi this year. And don't worry, I intend to make this quantifiable too. For this prediction to be correct, Barcelona has to finish higher than the 3rd place they got in the league last year and/or advance past the Round of 16 finish they had in the Champions League. I say and/or because Barcelona did win the Copa Del Rey last year, so if they win it again, all they need to do to be better is either finish top two in the league or advance past the Round-of-16. But if they don't win the Copa Del Rey, they'll need to be in the top two of La Liga and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for this prediction to be correct.
With those technicalities out of the way, I can explain why I believe Barcelona will perform better.
Firstly, there is less pressure on the players.
With no Messi and a less than ideal transfer window because of their ongoing financial debacle, there is virtually no one expecting Barcelona to have any type of success. This type of perception means teams won't show Barcelona the kind of respect they deserve. That will prove to be to the advantage of this young team.
The second reason is that Barcelona might actually have a stronger squad.
Memphis Depay has bounced back from his disappointing period in Manchester and now arguably looks like a top-10 player in the world at any given moment. Next is Antoine Griezmann's return to a similar role he played at Atletico Madrid now that Messi is gone. There is the brilliant versatility of Frankie De Jong still in the squad. You have the experience of winners like Busquets, Jordi Alba, Sergio Aguero, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho, and Gerard Pique.
And to round it all out, I am willing to argue that Barcelona has by far the best core of U21 players in the world.
Ansu Fati, Pedri, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, Ilaix Moriba (if he stays), and Yusuf Demir are all under 21 and capable of playing an important role for any team across Europe. When it comes to strength in youth, it doesn't get any better than the core Barcelona has, and that doesn't include the likes of Oscar Mingueza, Riqui Puig, Emerson, Ronald Araujo, and Ousmane Dembele.
You put that kind of team together and combine that with lower expectations and an experienced coach in Ronald Koeman, and I want you to tell me how many clubs are in a better position?
So, yes, losing Messi is monumental, but this Barcelona team will shock the world by performing better without him. And please, please, please, give my guy Pedri a lil break. Mans has aged 20 years over the last twelve months; it's not that serious 😭.
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