Don’t fret Barcelona fans, Neymar hasn’t been dropped, according to the Catalan club’s manager.
Luis Enrique made sure fans and media alike were made aware that the Brazilian striker hadn’t been benched, but instead was just rested in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Almeria on Wednesday.
“Neymar is the only one who didn’t get a rest with his national team. So [tonight] I called [up] Pedro, who was in the best possible condition,” Enrique said in his post-match press conference. Pedro played the full 90 minutes alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar played all 90 minutes in Brazil’s 1-0 friendly win over Chile on March 29, and was drawn into headlines when Gary Medel appeared to stamp on the 23-year-old’s ankle. Medel was not punished for the incident.
Questions surrounding Neymar arose following the release of the teamsheet as he has taken a back seat to Suarez of late. To say Neymar is struggling would be a stretch, since the team itself is firing on all cylinders, but Suarez has begun to steal Neymar’s thunder in recent weeks. The Brazilian has 17 goals on the season, but none since February 15 when he wrapped up a four-game stretch where he bagged five goals. During that same span, Suarez has netted six times, including a pair of braces against Rayo Vallecano and Almeria, as well as the winning goal in El Clasico against Real Madrid.
The drawback for Enrique having three world-class strikers at his disposal is that unless all three are scoring at a normal clip – which would make Barcelona practically unstoppable – he will be forced to answer questions about the one or two not currently producing. In the season’s early stages it was Suarez, but Neymar occupies that seat for the time being.