Barcelona news: Lionel Messi tells why Barcelona are playing better this season

Barcelona news: Lionel Messi tells why Barcelona are playing better this season Barcelona news: Lionel Messi tells why Barcelona are playing better this season

The Brazilian left for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer when the French side activated his €222m buyout clause

Lionel Messi believes the departure of Neymar this summer has made Barcelona even better.

The Brazilian forward left the Nou Camp this summer when Paris Saint-Germain paid his €222million buyout clause to complete the most expensive transfer of all-time.

After contributing 105 goals in his four seasons at Barcelona it was not a stretch to say there were fears he would be missed in Catalonia, but Barca currently sit top of La Liga and have made it through to the knockout stage of the Champions League with a game to spare.

Messi, who this weekend signed a new deal that will keep him at the Nou Camp until 2021 and contains a €700m buyout clause, believes that the changes Barca have had to make following his former strike-partner's departure have actually improved them.

"Neymar's departure has caused the way we play to change," the Argentine told Marca . "We lost a great deal of offensive potential but it favoured us in a defensive sense.

"Currently we are most well-armed in the middle of the field, we have more balance and that makes us stronger defensively."

This new-found defensive strength has seen Barca open up a seven point gap over their bitter rivals Real Madrid, who are in fourth place following an indifferent start to the season.

But Messi believes this is only a blip an they will be challenging for honours come the business end of the season.

"It's only temporary," he continues. "It's not the first time that we've seen a situation like that of Real Madrid in a top league. In the end, they will be back fighting for everything because of the team they have, because of the players they have and because they have always been like that."

Barca take on second-placed Valencia on Sunday evening, knowing that a win would see them open up a seven-point advantage at the top of the table.

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk