The central defender wants to prove himself when the captain leaves in the summer, but says he does not fear competition from a summer signingMarc Bartra claims that Barcelona have not come to terms with "losing a leader" following Carles Puyol's departure announcement on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old confirmed he would be leaving Camp Nou during the summer after 15 years in the first team, sparking suggestions of who would fill the boots of the Blaugrana captain.
Bartra would not yet be drawn about who could replace Puyol, though he hopes he can prove his ability to replace the veteran in the Barca backline. The young defender hailed the impact his Spanish compatriot has had on him during his still-fledgling career.
"It’s sad news for us all," the 23-year-old told reporters on Thursday. "For the team because we’ve lost our leader, he’s a captain from head to toes. And personally because he gave me so much advice and helped me progress in the game.
"We haven’t gotten used to the idea that he won’t be with us next season, yet. But there are still three months left and we have to be optimistic and learn as much as we can from him in that time.
"He helps me a lot on the field. After every move he gives me advice and after every game and every training session too. He had a massive impact, not just for me but for the whole team.
"I’d rather think about who will replace him at the end of the season. We still have four centre-backs at the moment. If somebody new comes, I’ll learn from him, while I have to keep proving that I can play at centre-back here."
Bartra could start alongside Puyol in Saturday's visit to Valladolid, which could see them at least temporarily return to the top of La Liga before Real Madrid host Levante on Sunday.