It seems odd to suggest that a team like Barcelona needs to add reinforcements over the summer. After all, we're talking about one of the most lucrative clubs in the world that boasts one of the top rosters in all of club football.
But when Barca was utterly humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in aggregate 7-0, a few things became all too clear:
- Without Lionel Messi in the lineup, this team really struggles to score against elite competition.
- Barcelona is too small to compete physically with taller, more athletic teams like Bayern Munich. Sure, the German side may be an anomaly in world football, but they will be the new model now for teams looking to build a European power.
- The central defense needs to be improved.
Without question, Messi is the top player in the world, and had he been healthy against Bayern Munich, the matchup would have at least been closer. But it's obvious that he'll need some help this summer to keep Barcelona as the top side in Europe.
The first priority for Barca should be adding a centre-back.
I'd love to see the team go after Mats Hummels, but he obviously won't come on the cheap, and Borussia Dortmund will do everything in their power to keep him, especially with Mario Götze heading to Bayern Munich and half of Europe ready to raid the team for Robert Lewandowski and probably Marco Reus as well.
In my opinion, the second should be adding another goalscorer, either someone who can come off the bench to give Messi the occasional break or a winger who can reprise David Villa's goal-scoring role from before his injury last season.
Now, if Neymar ends up heading to the club this summer—and there have been reports (via Goal.com) that he may do just that—this article is basically rendered moot. Neymar is a natural goalscorer from his favored position on the left wing, and you could easily see him sliding into the false-nine role when Messi needed a breather.
Yes, Neymar will have to change some elements of his game—he won't be able to dance on the ball as much as he does at Santos, and he'll need to recognize that he's no longer the center of the team's attack, Messi is—but he would give the Catalans a scary new element to their game.
His speed, ball control, ability to score from distance and creativity would open up even more space for Messi to run, and imagining the two overlapping on runs and finding one another on the attack is enough to make even non-Barcelona fans a bit excited about the prospect of watching the pair work together.
Neymar paired with Lionel Messi would instantly make Barcelona Champions League favorites.
Neymar wouldn't be able to roam quite as much, of course, but he would give Barca two of the top forwards in the game. With one of the top midfields in the world led by Andres Iniesta and hopefully a new centre-back, Barcelona would likely go into next season favored to once again win the Champions League title.
There is very little Messi can't do, but not even he can solely lead a team to Champions League glory. Even the best need help, and while Barcelona is stacked, Bayern Munich have already improved by adding Goetze.
It's your move, Barca.