Tuesday November 12 2013
‘Cesc and I will deputise for Messi’

Neymar has revealed that Tata Martino has already been preparing him and Cesc Fabregas to deputise in Lionel Messi’s absence.

The Argentine has been ruled out for up to two months with a torn thigh muscle, but according to his Brazilian strike partner, preparations at Barca for his possible absence started a while ago.

“Messi is a ‘10’, a weapon that can break the opposition defence,” began Neymar to Revista da Internet today.

“This function is being trusted with me and Cesc, we are always working on the hypothesis of a possible absence for Messi and so that this type of situation can be tackled less traumatically.

“He has already had two muscle problems. He came from a marathon of matches without precedent in history, winning four consecutive Ballon d’Ors and being top scorer.

“His mere presence on the field gives us comfort, to me and my teammates. Frequent injuries are statistically predictable for the level of physical exertion that Messi has played under through the years and he is going through a period where he is more susceptible to injury.

“Given this and the intent to prevent it, the Coach has created an attack with alternatives, in which Cesc and I will take responsibility, working with less improvisation.

“The structure of play loses something as a collective, but gains more at an individual level and from my point of view and that of Messi, the team and the fans can continue to see Barca as a whole exhibit their football and win more titles.

“Messi is a leader for me and everyone on the team, whilst he is quiet and calm. It is impossible for me not to be upset with him for suffering another injury, just as I have arrived to Barca.

“My dream was to play alongside Messi to form over time a ‘super duo’ and not to so quickly assume the attacking responsibility of a team full of other great players.”

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