There’s no doubt that Lionel Messi is still one of the greatest players in the world, but there comes a point where he can’t actually do it all himself anymore.
Any NFL fans will recognise the similarities between Tom Brady and Lionel Messi, both are the true stand out in their fields and they’ve made good teams great over the years, but if you surround them with mediocrity then they can only do so much.
The New England Patriots surrounded him with the NFL equivalent of Martin Braithwaite all season and they paid the price, much like Barcelona are going to this season.
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It’s a huge Summer for them, we are now seeing the final great years of Lionel Messi and he deserves a better supporting cast to ensure he goes out on top.
Here’s a look at five players they should target this Summer to help transform this current side, but also build towards the future:
Adama Traore – Wolves
Messi was at his best when Dani Alves was able to occupy the entire right hand side of the field himself, it allowed Messi to drift inside and Alves had the quality if he was left alone. There’s nobody like Alves available right now, so they need to think outside the box. Traore is so quick and powerful but he’s also skillful and will give the opposition nightmares, so his athleticism could cause havoc on that right hand side. He might not be good enough defensively, but a midfielder could step over to cover him when he goes forward and this would give Messi more space to roam.
Neymar – PSG
It’s been talked about for a while and every-time a truce breaks out between him and PSG it only seems to last a matter of days before someone connected to the Brazilian starts to have a pop, so they need to swallow their pride and just let him go. We’ve seen he’s world class and he will take some of the attention away from Messi. They need a proper threat on both flanks to prevent a team from overloading one side on defence, and this could bring that balance back to the team. It could also allow Griezmann to move inside to rediscover his best form.
Lautaro Martinez – Inter Milan
Another player who is heavily touted with a move and would provide the long term option at the number 9 position. He’s a true all round player who can link up with the midfield, create and score goals so he would be a great option to have. He’s also a willing runner who can apply pressure high up the pitch to win the ball back, and he’s also shown he’s mature enough to play for a huge club despite his young age. He would be expensive, but he and Luis Suarez would give them two top class options to call upon.
N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
The best Barcelona sides have been able to retain the ball for fun so a lack of athleticism doesn’t matter, but that’s no longer the case. There’s a real lack of running in the midfield just now and Sergio Busquets doesn’t have the pace to deal with good movement from the number ten spot, and it can leave them exposed on the counter. Kante is out of favour at Chelsea but he could flourish here if he’s left to do what he does best – buzz around in defensive midfield to win the ball back and give it to the more creative players. It might not be the most glitzy move for the club, but he’s exactly what they could do with just now.
Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus
He looked like a ready made Barcelona player before moving to Juventus, but things haven’t gone quite as well for him in Italy since moving from Ajax. Perhaps it’s the style of football that he’s not suited to, but he could be the long term answer in the defence. Very comfortable on the ball, a leader and he has some pace so he can handle playing in a high line, a move to Spain might suit him more. At Juventus he’s expected to defend first and that doesn’t suit him – at Barcelona he would see more of the ball and could link up with Frenkie de Jong too. His poor start at Juve could even tempt them to cut their losses this Summer, and he could help rejuvenate that back-line.
Money could be a problem with the Neymar transfer, but they do have sell-able assets and they’ve shown they can spend before so it shouldn’t be ruled out.
They may not want to make wholesale changes, but some arrivals are vital this Summer.