Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona could be liberating for some of their other players, according to Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi left Barcelona following the conclusion of his contract, with the club’s dire financial situation making it impossible for them to retain their all-time leading goalscorer.
Barca remain unbeaten at the start of the post-Messi era this season, but their biggest test of the campaign will come when they host Bayern in Champions League Group E next Tuesday.
Nagelsmann does not believe Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain necessarily makes Barca any less dangerous, though, because there will be plenty of individuals keen to step out of his shadow.
“A great player who marked the club for years has left. He had a lot of influence on the pitch and off it, also in the dressing room,” Nagelsmann said in a Q&A hosted by Bayern.
“He also made decisions of an organisational nature, which leads me to think there will be some players who will now be freed, filling the position he occupied.
“He is a world-class player who knows how to decide matches on his own. Any team is better with Messi than without Messi.”
While Barca’s weekend fixture against Sevilla is in doubt, Bayern have a trip to Nagelsmann’s former side RB Leipzig to navigate on Saturday.
The Bayern boss suggested it is unlikely defender Lucas Hernandez will feature in both fixtures having only recently returned from a knee injury sustained at Euro 2020.
While the Bavarian giants are unbeaten in five competitive games without Hernandez this season, last term they won just 53.8 per cent of their fixtures in which the France international did not appear. With the defender making an appearance, their win percentage climbed significantly to 81.1 per cent.
“Lucas has made a very good impression. He is on top of things physically and has no more problems in the knee. The injury is healed,” said Nagelsmann.
“Naturally, he will need a little time because the injury has taken a little longer to recover from. Regarding his physical condition, we are optimistic.
“He will probably play one of the two games, not both because it is too early to play two games in such a short time. If all goes well, we will see him on the pitch against Leipzig or Barcelona.”
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