5 players Barcelona cannot afford to drop
Barcelona might be currently sitting comfortably atop the La Liga table, but here are five players they cannot afford to drop.
With eleven matches played, Barcelona comfortably sit at the top of the La Liga table. A club that was recently under heavy scrutiny and written off completely has begun their season in effective fashion, winning 10 and drawing one of their top-flight fixtures to date.
They've taken many by surprise and are already on the verge of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, with two more matches to contest.
After their unsuccessful transfer window was followed up with premature calls of crisis and humiliation at the hands of arch-rivals Real Madrid, criticism was always going to occur.
Claims that the club was not ready to compete on all fronts though, were naive and Barça have already begun proving their critics wrong. Consistently winning, especially when they haven't been performing particularly well, is the mark of champions.
There are a set of players within the squad who have impressed with regular hard work, commitment to the cause and individual brilliance. Without them, the Catalans wouldn't be flying so high at present.
Here's an extended look at the top five players that Ernesto Valverde cannot afford to drop at present this season:
Barca's decision to sign former Tottenham outcast Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande raised many eyebrows this past summer. The Brazilian midfielder joined with an unwelcoming atmosphere surrounding the move, which was heavily criticised considering his well-documented struggles in England's top-flight.
However after just three months with the Catalan club, the 29-year-old has quickly established himself as an influential figure in Spain. Proving critics wrong with impressive and consistent displays, his presence is highly valued and one that helps Barcelona add a new dimension to their play.