Real Madrid were always going to struggle in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, but Barcelona may not suffer the same troubles when Lionel Messi leaves, according to Deco.
Ronaldo ended his record-breaking nine-year association with Madrid over the summer when he left the Santiago Bernabeu to join Juventus and his absence has been sorely felt.
The reigning European champions currently sit sixth in La Liga and recently sacked manager Julen Lopetegui after a disappointing run of form , but former Barcelona midfielder Deco says that it is natural for Madrid to be off the pace following the loss of such a great talent.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Sport , Ronaldo’s former Portugal team-mate Deco said: “I do not discuss whether they [Real] are playing well or badly, but did people really think they would be the same without Cristiano?
“He is the best player in the history of Madrid and it is normal that the team suffers.”
The former Porto star also suggested that some of Real’s inability to adapt to life after Ronaldo may be due to the abruptness of his departure.
When asked whether Barcelona would face similar transitional issues when Messi retires, he said: “I do not know, but there is a difference: Cristiano's was quite sudden, it was not completely natural, it did not end little by little and that's why the club was not prepared.”
Madrid have lost four games in La Liga already this season and lie seven points behind leaders Barcelona after 11 matches. The club also had to endure a lengthy goal drought, failing to find the back of the net for a total of 481 minutes before Marcelo scored in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Levante.
By contrast, Ronaldo has settled well to life in Italy. His Juventus side remain unbeaten after 11 matches in Serie A and hold a six-point lead over second-placed Inter Milan.
After a relatively sluggish start to the campaign by his own remarkable standards, the 33-year-old has picked up seven goals and five assists in the league, and recently became the first player in history to reach 400 professional goals in Europe’s top five leagues .