Former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol has stood up for Neymar, with the Brazilian coming under increasing criticism as the club’s poor run continues.
Neymar has scored 27 goals so far this season, but his dip in form has coincided with Barca’s downfall which has seen them go four games without a win in La Liga.
Coupled with their exit from the Champions League last week, their season is under threat as Luis Enrique looks for solutions to their problems before their entire campaign unravels.
Part of the issue has been Neymar’s inability to find the back of the net, but the media in Spain have picked up on it and have seemingly tried to make the 24-year-old a scapegoat while his teammates have also been guilty of falling below their usual standards.
While his decision-making and demeanour has been poor in recent weeks, it is clear that the former Santos star is not the only problem that has in turn resulted in Barca dropping off the pace.
With signs of fatigue, both mental and physical, in his squad, Enrique doesn’t possess the quality in depth required to sustain their push, and Puyol has hit out at critics for trying to place sole blame on Neymar’s shoulders.
“You cannot always be at the highest level,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“Neymar is still young and he is very professional. We must accept that he cannot always perform at an impressive level. But he will put in great performances again. A bad game for Neymar can still be a good game because he still does spectacular things.”
Barca travel to Deportivo on Wednesday night looking to get their league title push back on track, as they now sit level on points with Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
Although they hold the advantage on goal difference, the pressure is certainly increasing on them to respond to adversity, and it will take more than just improved performances from Neymar in order to ensure that happens.