Is it possible that the loss of Neymar actually helped Barcelona improve? Lionel Messi seems to think so.
Barca lost Neymar in the off-season after French giants Paris Saint-Germain sensationally activated his €222million release clause in August.
Neymar was a key member of Barca's famed 'MSN' forward trio, alongside Messi and Luis Suarez, helping the club to two La Liga titles and the Champions League among other honours.
But the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said Barca – unbeaten and 11 points clear atop the table – are better without the Brazil star.
"Without Neymar we are more balanced," Messi told World Soccer .
"His departure meant a change in our way of playing, we lost a lot of attacking potential, but it helped in the defensive sense.
"We are currently very well armed in the midfield; this makes us stronger in defence."
Barca are also preparing for the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Chelsea for a spot in the quarter-finals.
However, Messi believes another English side – former Barca boss Pep Guardiola's Manchester City – are the team to watch, along with Neymar's PSG.
"Manchester City are one of the strongest teams in the world at the moment," the Argentina attacker said. "The same goes for PSG.
"However, there's a lot of football still to play and I don't rule out Real Madrid yet as they have a lot of quality and experience. Then there's Bayern Munich, another great team who will fight till the end. But right now, City and PSG are the best."
Barcelona face a match in La Liga against Alaves on Sunday and continue their busy schedule with a Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Valencia on Thursday.