Busquets backs Neymar to fill Messi void

The Barcelona midfielder has backed his Brazilian team-mate to continue his good form following his four goals against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday


Neymar can be a true Barcelona “leader” in the absence of Lionel Messi, midfielder Sergio Busquets insists.

The Brazil international scored four as Barca beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 on Saturday to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga after eight games.

Neymar was booed by some sections of the Camp Nou crowd for his display in the 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on matchday two of the Champions League but, as they prepare to take on BATE, Busquets has no doubt the Brazil captain can shine as Messi continues his recovery from a knee injury.

“Messi’s absence does show,” Busquets said. “We’re trying to give everything so that we don’t notice his absence, but we do. He scores more goals, gives more assists.

“Neymar has the capability to be a leader in the absence of Leo. He’s one of those players who can make the team feel better.”

Barca have been hit hard by injuries so far this season, especially given that they cannot field Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal until January due to a FIFA-imposed ban.

Busquets, however, says they can have few excuses for any dip in form as they look to take maximum points from two games against the Belarusian champions.

“It’s not normal that FIFA won’t allow us to sign players. But we have no excuses. We know that Arda and Aleix Vidal can’t play for us until January,” he said.

“To win here and to win afterwards in Barcelona would give us six very important points.

“We respect all our opponents. All away games in the Champions League are difficult. We’re ready, but all we think about is winning.”