- La Liga
Barcelona planned for time without Messi - Neymar
Neymar has claimed that Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has been working on alternative attacking options in case Lionel Messi got injured.
It was confirmed on Monday that Messi would miss up to eight weeks after he tore a muscle in his left thigh during Barca's 4-1 La Liga victory over Real Betis on Sunday evening.
This latest blow comes after Messi suffered a bruised thigh on August 21 during the Spanish Super Cup first leg game against Atletico Madrid and a small muscle tear in his right thigh against Almeria on September 28.
The Argentina international is now set to miss games in La Liga and the Champions League, but Neymar has played down fears about Barca's chances without their star man, insisting that he and Cesc Fabregas are ready to fill the void.
He told Revista da Internet: "Leo [Messi] had already had two muscular problems. He had come off an unprecedented marathon of matches. Frequent injuries are statistically predictable given the level of physical effort and Leo is having a spell of more predispositions to injuries.
"Before his injury was confirmed and as a way to prevent it, the coach created alternatives on offence in which Cesc and I assumed responsibility, working with fewer improvisations.
"Messi is a ten in the artillery. Many times he breaks down the other team's defence and goes after it. This function was assigned to me and Cesc, always working under the hypothesis of a possible loss of Messi and so this could be faced in a way that was the least traumatic."
Neymar also spoke about Messi's role within the Barcelona camp as a leader and his upset at seeing him sidelined again.
"He's the leader for me and for everyone in the team, he's relaxed and calm," Neymar said. "It's impossible for me not to be affected when I see how sad he is to suffer another injury, just when I've arrived at the club.
"My dream was to play alongside Messi and to end up becoming part of a super duo and not to have to take over as the attacking force so soon for a Barcelona packed with stars."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.