Lionel Messi's decision to leave Barcelona has left the club's fanbase in a state of shock. There is not a single player in the world that can replace Lionel Messi and those that do pretend to his throne are great players in their own right but are leagues behind Lionel Messi in terms of consistency.
Lionel Messi has stayed at Barcelona for nearly two decades and has become an emblem of the club. The Argentine genius is the greatest player in the club's history and will leave a gaping hole that will possibly never be filled at Barcelona. Lionel Messi has contributed to over 10% of the goals scored in Barcelona's history and a replacement for the Argentine simply does not exist.
Barcelona needs to compensate for Lionel Messi's departure
Barcelona's incompetent board is unlikely to have a contingency plan in place to mitigate the damage that will be caused by Lionel Messi's departure. The effect created by an Argentine in the final third can only be replicated by a robust tactical system and a shrewd transfer policy. Barcelona's proficiency in both these regards is highly questionable at the moment.
If the current board continues its reign of terror, Barcelona is likely to make a big investment in this transfer window to compensate for Lionel Messi's absence. None of these big names is capable of the sheer magic that Lionel Messi brings to the pitch but for a Barcelona side that is struggling at the moment, a talisman may well be the need of the hour.
#5 Riyad Mahrez
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez is nowhere near Lionel Messi in terms of skill or talent but is a brilliant player in his own right. The Algerian star has shown tremendous improvement under Pep Guardiola and has a good understanding of Barcelona's philosophy.
Manchester City is currently the favourite to sign Lionel Messi and Barcelona may well ask for a player in return. Riyad Mahrez is a staple for Pep Guardiola's side on the right flank and his claim to a spot in the starting eleven with certainly be complicated by Lionel Messi's arrival.
Riyad Mahrez has stacked up 11 goals and 9 assists in the Premier League this season and is perfectly capable of playing in a central and creative role. The Algerian magician will certainly not be able to make up for Lionel Messi's absence but can offer the Barcelona attack a definitive cutting edge.
#4 Jadon Sancho
Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho is an unlikely option for Barcelona but his potential acquisition may well be the first good decision taken by the Catalan club in the past several years. The young English prodigy has enjoyed a sensational season in Germany and has been linked to several high-profile clubs across Europe.
Manchester United has failed in its pursuit of Sancho and Borussia Dortmund continues to demand a bid of €120 million for the forward. Lionel Messi's sale is sure to raise its fair share of funds and Barcelona needs to make the most of its miniature silver lining.
Jadon Sancho offers a different dimension to Barcelona and his creativity in the final third can provide the Blaugrana's attack with a massive shot in the arm. With Lionel Messi absent, Barcelona needs a source of ingenuity in the team and Jadon Sancho is perfectly capable of playing the role.