Lionel Messi claims Neymar’s exit has ‘strengthened’ Barcelona and that a lack of games is holding back the ‘extraordinary’ Arda Turan.
Messi was presented the fourth European Golden Shoe of his career by Barca teammate and last season’s winner Luis Suarez at a ceremony hosted by Marca on Friday, and the No 10 discussed some of his colleagues past and present to the newspaper.
“Four Golden Shoes? It’s beautiful for what it means, but I’ve always said that my priority was never individual awards,” began the Argentine.
“I’d like to win another Champions League or another League title, they’re my priorities, but it’s beautiful to have this at home too because of the meaning it has.
“Arda? He has a lot of quality, he’s an extraordinary player. He’s had the bad luck of not getting the confidence and continuity that any player needs to be able to perform in a team.
“He came from Atletico Madrid, where he played in a different position to the one he’s played here, and he also played every weekend.
“Playing from time to time isn’t the same as doing so every weekend. It’s much more complicated and that’s why Arda could never manage to cut loose. Still, he’s done well whenever he’s played and been given a bit of continuity.
“Umtiti? He trains how he plays, he holds nothing back, nothing at all, neither in games nor training. Off the field, he’s an excellent person and a great lad.
“Surprised by his performances? I honestly didn’t know much about him when he arrived, but having watched him train, what he does in games doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen his quality up close.
“More defensive Barca? The departure of Ney has caused us to change our way of playing. We lost great attacking power, but [his sale] also strengthened us in the defensive aspect.
“We’re more protected in the middle of the park as a result, we have more order and that makes us stronger defensively.”