These players have the chance to take the center stage at the club following the exit of the Argentine superstar.
FC Barcelona is heading into a new era as a club as they bid adieu to Lionel Messi recently. Fans of the club are still in shock after the move but it is clear that the club needs to look forward.
There are still a lot of quality players in the squad who can help the team challenge for trophies. The club’s financial woes should not have an effect on the players on the pitch. The Spanish giants are ushering into a new age, without Messi, and there are a few players who can lead them into it.
These players have a big pedigree and abundance of quality. They are well-equipped to handle the pressure and guide the team to success with their performance. While it is unrealistic to emulate what Messi did, they can certainly ease the club in living without the Argentine maestro.
Here are five FC Barcelona players who can help the club in the transition after the exit of Lionel Messi.
The youngster played more than 70 games during the 2020/21 season and is quickly maturing into a fabulous player. The 18-year-old has immense potential to fulfill and will only get better in the future. He plays as a midfielder but has the tendency to involve himself in the final third. The FC Barcelona teenager has creativity and intricate passing gameplay unique to La Masia graduates.
The Spaniard can easily transition into a no.10 and use his vision to provide service to the strikers. The comparisons to Andres Iniesta have been there but now follows the comparisons to Lionel Messi. It will be interesting to observe Pedri’s growth and how it increases his importance to the club.
4. Memphis Depay
The Dutchman finally got his dream move to FC Barcelona ahead of the 2021/22 season. He was in sublime form for Olympique Lyonnais before arriving in the La Liga in the summer of 2021. Depay managed 76 goals and provided 56 assists in 178 appearances for the Ligue 1 outfit.
The forward is enjoying the most fruitful period in his career and the fans are excited about his tenure at the club. Judging from his attacking output for Lyon, the 27-year-old can score and provide at the same time. This is in line to what Messi brought to the table, a constant goal scoring threat and a provider too.
3. Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian still remains the most-expensive signing at FC Barcelona. The outfit paid €135m to Liverpool to sign him. Although he has struggled to find consistency, the Brazilian remains a world-class talent. He can finally shine after Messi’s departure, whose shadow overpowered most players including Neymar.
Furthermore, in addition to being an attacking winger, Coutinho can also play in the no.10 role. Ronald Koeman has employed the attacker in that role and it could be a new position where Coutinho can excel at. This is the perfect occasion for Philippe Coutinho to finally bury the criticism and justify the price the club paid for him.
2. Antoine Griezmann
The Frenchman has mostly looked out of place in the team because of the positional issues. The club paid €120m to Atletico Madrid to sign him and made him the third most-expensive player at the club. However, Griezmann is that sort of a player who excels when given a free role in the attacking third. This role at FC Barcelona belonged to Messi in the past and Griezmann had to settle being a winger, something that limited his contribution.
However, with Messi’s departure, Griezmann can finally be the focal point in attack. He is exceptional playing as a supporting striker or a ‘raumdeuter’. The forward can score and provide goals at will if he enjoys freedom upfront.
1. Ansu Fati
The La Masia graduate is one of the most gifted youngsters in world football. He is the youngest goalscorer at FC Barcelona after scoring his first professional goal in a 2-2 draw against Osasuna in the 2019-20 season. He is quick, nimble, a great dribbler, creative, and will continue to develop in the future.
The Spaniard has already made a sizable impact for both club and country. The 18-year-old has what it takes to become one of the best players in the world. He could most likely establish his own legacy at FC Barcelona and fulfill the gap left behind by Lionel Messi.