If Barcelona wants to continue winning trophies in the future, it will need to be less reliant on Lionel Messi.
The Argentine forward was absolutely outstanding all season long, leading La Liga with 46 goals in 27 starts. He also added 14 goals in other competitions, including eight in the UEFA Champions League, as the club reached the semifinals of the prestigious tournament.
Thanks mostly to his strong play on a consistent basis, Barcelona built up a huge lead over the first half of the league season. While the club struggled a bit down the stretch, Real Madrid was unable to catch up and Barcelona clinched the title for the fourth time in five years.
Unfortunately, things did not go as smoothly when Messi started missing time with a hamstring injury.
After missing a few matches altogether, the forward came in as a substitute when needed over the past few weeks. In that time, he helped his side advance in the UCL quarterfinal over Paris Saint-Germain, but he did not do much against Bayern Munich in the semifinal.
The German club shut Messi down in a 4-0 victory in the first leg. He sat out in the second leg, and his squad lost 3-0.
Basically, what we have seen is that, without Messi playing at 100 percent, Barcelona has few other scoring options against quality opponents.
Besides the Ballon d'Or winner, the Spanish club only has one other player to reach double-digit goals during the league season; Cesc Fabregas scored 10, which was 36 off of the team lead.
Barcelona has a lot of great midfielders who can control possession and put teammates in great position to score. Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Xavi are players that would help any club in the world. Unfortunately, there are not enough players on the roster who are skilled at putting the ball in the back of the net.
As a result, the squad must look toward external solutions to bring in a secondary scorer.
The biggest name that has come up recently is Neymar. However, the Brazilian striker has denied all speculation and stated the he "won't leave Santos before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is over," according to Paulo Freitas of Sky Sports.
In the meantime, the club must find another player who can come in and take some pressure off of Messi. Otherwise, it will continue to struggle against elite opponents, whether or not the star player is healthy.
Barca accomplished a lot this season by winning La Liga in convincing fashion. However, the expectations are extremely high for this club. The fact that it failed to win the Copa del Rey and the Champions League is relatively disappointing.
If the squad wants to reach that level, it cannot continue to get by with just Messi as a scorer.
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