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The former Santos starlet has yet to start a competitive fixture for the Blaugrana but the Blaugrana official feels he will benefit in the long term

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has backed Gerardo Martino's handling of Neymar as he continues to phase him gradually into the side.

Neymar again only featured as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Malaga despite injury keeping out Lionel Messi, but Zubizarreta believes it was the correct decision given the Brazil starlet's pre-season fitness problems.

"If Messi is not there, it does not mean that Neymar has to be," the former Spain international is quoted as saying by Marca.

"Neymar will be here for many seasons, not a game or two. When he is 100 per cent, we'll see more of him.

"He is a player that we know well. He has speed, accuracy, is good one on one, but there are also other players in the team who have attributes like that.

"He has a desire to go as quickly as possible with us. And every day he is giving us more. He is moving in the right direction."

Without their star duo, Barcelona lacked a cutting edge against Malaga and only prevailed thanks to a long-range effort from full-back Adriano.

"We struggled against a very tight defence," Zubizarreta mused. "Even at 1-0 down, the game did not open up.

"But in the final few minutes, we could have scored a second, or Malaga could have earned a draw.

"Still, we should remember that we are in August and that there are things to work on.

"We must remember that a large part of the squad was not incorporated back into the rest of the group until July 28th, so they have not even had a month of competition.

"Things should gradually improve. Besides, there is always a need to introduce new things slowly in oder to surprise the opponent."

Neymar, who joined Barcelona from Santos for €57 million earlier this summer, was diagnosed as anaemic before subsequently losing seven kilograms in weight after having his tonsils removed during pre-season.

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