Lionel Messi Injury: Barca Stars Most Likely to Shine in Argentinian's Absence

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Lionel Messi Injury: Barca Stars Most Likely to Shine in Argentinian's Absence
David Ramos/Getty Images

After it was announced earlier this month that Lionel Messi would be out of action for the remainder of the calendar year, the most immediate of reactions given by most Barcelona fans was one of panic.

Luckily for La Blaugrana, however, Gerardo Martino just so happens to have one of the most plentiful attacking reserves that one's likely to come across in a European squad.

While the South American superstar may be missing as a result of his most recent muscle injury, there's plenty for Barca supporters to be hopeful about, with just a few of those most likely to pick up the slack in his absence discussed below.

 

Pedro

As Martino continues to get an idea of just what is his best attacking combination at the Camp Nou, Pedro has slipped ever so slightly down the pecking order at Barcelona, going through a patch of decreased involvement of late.

However, given that the winger is one of Spain's best wide assets, it's only natural that the 26-year-old fall back into the reckoning in Messi's absence.

On only five occasions has Pedro played the full 90 minutes across all competitions so far this season, with three of those coming in Barca's last three outings against Real Betis, Granada and Ajax, in that order.

Playing off both wings in those matches, the speedster netted twice and isn't taking any time at all in settling back into the starting line-up, laying a strong marker down for future inclusion.

 

Alexis Sanchez

Despite his massive billing upon his arrival from Udinese in 2011, Alexis Sanchez has never really garnered a spot as one of Barca's truer "stars," per se, often seen as simply a very reliable backup for some.

However, Martino is showing faith in his fellow South American, as the Chilean-born Sanchez has now scored six goals in his last five La Liga fixtures but was unfortunate not to be involved against Ajax as a result of suspension.

Depending on how the attacking positions are shaken up without Messi, the 24-year-old could be one of those who finds themselves featuring more prominently after showing a potent scoring touch of late.

 

Neymar

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Lastly, but certainly not least in the discussion of those benefiting as a result of Messi's injury comes Neymar, the youngster who would bear the brunt of an entire team's attacking load.

With Messi taking up the most central of slots this season, the Brazilian has largely played off of the left flank, save for a brief spell at centre-forward the last time Messi picked up a knock in October.

With his playing time already thriving, it's merely a question of whether Neymar is now given a more central opportunity to leave his mark under Martino, something that was evident against Granada despite the forward's inability to score on that occasion, settling for an assist instead.

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