MADRID: Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets reiterated his call for the club’s board to strengthen in the transfer market on Tuesday, but warned replacing the departed Neymar will be almost impossible.
The Brazilian’s absence was noticeable as Barca fell to a 3-1 Spanish Super Cup, first leg defeat at home to Real Madrid in the Catalans first game since Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record 222 million euro fee ($262 million).
“It is clear that with Neymar’s departure the team has lost out offensively,” said Busquets ahead of Wednesday’s second leg at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu (kick off 2100GMT).
“It’s obvious that you realise what kind of player Ney is.”
Busquets said in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s defeat that Barca had to sign after initial bids to land Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund were rejected last week.
However, the Spanish international believes the only way to move on from Neymar’s decision to jump ship to the French giants is for the Barca squad to be improved overall rather than finding a like-for-like replacement.
“Those that come in will be welcomed. With Neymar’s departure there is a lack of attacking players, but as I said before getting better means improving in all positions and all aspects.
“Hopefully as many players of the highest quality can come in.
“There is only one Neymar and now that he is no longer with us we need to look forward and try to improve as a team.”
Barca made Brazilian international midfielder Paulinho their first signing since Neymar’s departure from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande for 40 million euros on Monday.
And despite widespread scepticism over his ability to make an impact in Spain after a disappointing spell at Tottenham Hotspur before his move to China, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde insisted Paulinho will bring a different dimension to the Barca midfield.
“From a physical point of view he is a strong player that can offer us versatility,” said Valverde.
“There isn’t another player of his type in the team.”