The day Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in order to step out of Lionel Messi's shadow, the Cules were unsurprisingly wild at him. People called him a betrayer, back-stabber and many other unsavory names.
But nobody could have known that Neymar was actually an impediment to the high voltage circuit run by Alba and Messi.
Under Luis Enrique, Jordi Alba was a secondary member of the team, mostly overlooked, and mainly played off the bench. It was Neymar who occupied the upper left flank all to himself, trying funky tricks and solo dribbles.
I don't deny the fact that Messi-Suarez-Neymar, or 'MSN', was one of the best ever attacking trios assembled in football history. But an understanding at a subconscious level between players has always been at the core of Barcelona, and that has been rediscovered now.
After Neymar set out on his new voyage, Messi found his latest partner in crime in Alba.
Neymar-Messi sounds deadly on paper, but at Barcelona, any combination between Messi and ‘a player he understands inside out' can produce unparalleled results. Ronaldinho, Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves - they have all been part of such attacking duos with the little magician.
Suarez too has adapted himself to this new combination, and it has become a lethal one. His dummy shots to lay off Messi have brought chaos in this understanding, rendering defenders helpless.
Alba now has the new free left flank to work his telepathy, and this was all he needed to cement his spot in the history of this decorated club.
Neymar is undoubtedly one of the best in the world, but his potential return to Barcelona will limit Alba's freedom on the left flank.
Moreover, the lack of sound logic in his reasons for leaving should make any Barcelona faithful doubt his loyalty. You don't leave a club if you are in the shadow of another player; you should just work to shine brighter than before. Ousmane Dembele hasn't been here two seasons but he is already drawing a lot of attention for his mesmerizing dribbles and runs.
Neymar's contributions to the club are highly valued, but I don't see a way back for this guy. That's especially considering how positively the club has responded to his departure, an event that was expected to devastate them.Published 11 Feb 2019, 17:14 IST