Barcelona legend Carles Puyol has defended Neymar in the wake of a string of underwhelming performances, insisting the Brazil star is “very professional”.
Neymar has now gone five games without scoring amid Barca’s recent slump after he failed to find the net in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Valencia.
The 24-year-old was involved in an altercation with Valencia defender Antonio Barragan, but former Barca captain Puyol refused to criticise his ex-team-mate.
“You cannot always be at the highest level,” Puyol said at a media conference at the Laureus Awards when questioned about Neymar’s recent performances and behaviour.
“Neymar is still young and he is very professional. We must accept that he cannot always perform at an impressive level. But he will put in great performances again.
“A bad game for Neymar can still be a good game because he still does spectacular things.”
Barcelona are on a four-game winless streak in La Liga, allowing Atletico Madrid to move level on points in the title race, with Real Madrid trailing by just one point.
Nevertheless, Puyol remains optimistic about the Catalans’ chances of winning silverware, despite their elimination from the Champions League last week.
“Barcelona remain one of the best teams in the world for me,” he added.
“Their recent losing streak is hard to understand. It is not normal.
“But they have great players and they can still win La Liga and the Copa del Rey.”