ESPN reported that Barcelona had sent their talisman to his native Argentina in order to complete the final stages of his recovery:
.@FCBarcelona announce that Lionel Messi will travel to Argentina on Friday for the second phase of his recovery from injury.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 28, 2013
Speaking with Mundo Leo on Argentinian network DXTV, Neymar is quoted by the official Barcelona club website, saying:
The team is sad because Leo is one of the basic parts of this team. We know that he can change a game in our favour at any moment. I hope he recovers and starts playing again as soon as possible.
Since arriving at the Camp Nou this summer, Neymar has been prevented from getting into a consistent, fluid attacking partnership alongside his fellow South American and will have to wait slightly longer before that becomes the case.
|Games Played||Goals Scored||Average Goals Scored Per Game|
|Barca With Messi Starting||13||41||3.15|
|Barca Without Messi||5||11||2.2|
While Messi remains the reigning World Footballer of the Year, it's at times such as these that Barca must show their quality as one of Europe's best clubs.
As the old saying goes, no man is an island, and Gerardo Martino has a healthy sample of other stars capable of taking on their share of the attacking burden.
Having said that, Barca's first Champions League loss of the campaign came in the week's trip to Ajax, the first time the club took to the European stage since Messi was ruled out.
It would be a knee-jerk reaction to state that the defeat was directly influenced by Messi's lack of ingenuity in front of goal, but results like these can't be allowed to pile up, especially when it comes to the club's league fixtures.
Neymar is Brazil's figurehead star ahead of the 2014 World Cup, while Barca boast World Cup winners in the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Without Messi, these players must prove the club are not reliant upon their talisman, lifting the gloom highlighted by Neymar's comments.
For now, Neymar will attempt to ensure Messi's absence goes by without a further hitch, but the forward at least acknowledges that things will be different while he's not around.