Sergio Busquets admits that Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona came as a “shock”, but he is convinced that the Liga giants can compete for Champions League glory without the iconic Argentine in their ranks.
The Blaugrana saw the six-time Ballon d’Or winner walk away from Camp Nou as a free agent over the summer, with Paris Saint-Germain embracing the opportunity to acquire the all-time great.
Barca’s loss has been their gain, but Busquets is eager to see everyone in Catalunya move on and find other ways of claiming major silverware without the South American superstar leading the charge.
What has been said?
Busquets told reporters when quizzed on Messi’s exit: “It was a shock, for everything that Leo gave to Barca and personally to me.
“It was an accumulation of emotions that were difficult to digest, but we have to try to change the story. We are at the beginning of the season and we’ll have to get used to playing without Leo.”
Can Barcelona conquer Europe without Messi?
During a record-setting stint at Barca, Messi helped to secure four Champions League crowns – with the last of those coming in 2014-15.
His absence will hit Ronald Koeman’s plans hard as another European adventure is about to start, but Busquets believes continental glory is there to be shot at.
Pressed ahead of a group-stage opener against Bayern Munich on Tuesday on whether Barca can go all the way without Messi, Busquets said: “Anything can happen in football. Chelsea won the Champions League last season and were not favourites.
“The important thing is the collective level and we know that we do not have Leo or his individual qualities. We are here, excited and aware of the difficulty, but we have a lot of ambition and we want to win.”
Who will star in Messi’s absence?
Filling Messi’s boots at Camp Nou will be an impossible task, but there are a number of hopefuls ready to provide inspiration in the final third of the field.
Summer signing Memphis Depay has stepped up to that mark through his early appearances for the club, with two goals and an assist recorded across three outings, and Busquets admits that the Dutch forward could become a new talisman.
The World Cup winner said of the talented Netherlands international: “He has started very well, not only with goals and assists.
“He arrived after having had a few very good seasons and has been a great signing. Hopefully he will be important in terms of goals and assists, but also in every other way.
“He has connected very well with the fans and has adapted well. Frenkie [de Jong] and Luuk [de Jong] will make it easier for him. Players like this are always welcome.”