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FC Barcelona Grades: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Pedro

We take a look at how the attackers fared in the 2014-15 season.

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These ratings are given to players based on their performance during the 2014-15 season and range from A+ (the best) to F (the worst). They are given based on how well they performed the role they were given, so they are not absolute but relative to expectation.

Lionel Messi

I'm considering not writing anything here as it kinda speaks for itself, but man, it bears repeating. Messi put on one of his best seasons - arguably the BEST - and dang, is that saying something. He didn't score a billion goals like he did in 2012, but he didn't need to. Playing as a right-winger, he became much more willing to help out from a deeper position and leave some of the scoring and assisting to his mates. In fact, he defended a lot more often than he was used to, something that should get more notice. And there were many games in which he didn't register many goals or assists but was unquestionably the best player by miles. His masterclass of dribbling against Manchester City is one example. He also often started attacks with great passes from deep positions, meaning his contributions were often overlooked somewhat by the stat line. And yet, his stats were still outrageous. I could keep going with the accolades, but there's no need. No question, we saw a masterpiece from the master yet again.

Grade: A


It's easy to assume Neymar was The Chosen One, and he was always going to be a success, but many predicted he would be a Robinho-esque flop, and others said he would be good but it would take him a long time to be great. I don't think Neymar has gotten proper credit for his growth, which, astonishingly, is still a work in progress. His maturity is still not all there, and there are proper questions about his mentality. But come on, that's being nitpicky in the larger context. I hate to use these examples, but look at the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristiano Ronaldo, who are significantly older. Are they the models of maturity and serenity? No, but their teams are over the moon they have their quality. And Neymar banged in 39 goals - yeah, obviously aided by a super team - but man, 39! It's just 8 shy of OG Ronaldo's non-Messi club record of 47, and it matches or surpasses the career-highs of many greats like Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o, Robin van Persie, and Didier Drogba. He more than doubled his tally of 15 in his first season, and has surpassed monstrous expectations.

Grade: A

Luis Suarez

Suarez arrived at Barcelona under a lot of scrutiny, not to mention controversy. Without a doubt, everyone knew he was a special player. Arguably, he was the best player in the world in the previous season, almost single-handedly taking a mediocre Liverpool to within a few points of the league title. But he would be banned for about half the season and would be learning to adapt to a new system. The early days showed promise, but it took him a while to bag his first few goals and there was a lot of anxiety that he may never truly adapt. Of course the drama was a bit overblown, and seems especially ridiculous now, but it was perhaps reasonable to think that it would take Suarez well over half a season to regain peak fitness and fully fit into the system. Instead, he was a monster as soon as he got up to top speed. His Clasico-winning goal and UCL final goal will go down in Blaugrana history of course, but it wasn't just his goalscoring. He was unselfish and made all kinds of sacrificial runs the whole year. Some would like to think that the MSN trio becoming such an unparalleled success was a foregone conclusion, but the doubts existed, and would have probably come true were it not for the sacrifice of the team, the personality of the coach, and of course, the forwards themselves. None craved the spotlight, all were unselfish, and all three seemed to genuinely get on. The Neymar-Messi bromance was well-documented, so it was all about Suarez making it or breaking it. I'm sure we know which of the two happened.

Grade: A


Pedro put in another Pedro-like shift. Let's face it, he's pretty unglamorous compared to the MSN trio, and having such an unremarkable name like Pedro doesn't help things. Yet Pedro is pretty crazy talented himself, and it is a luxury to have him on the bench, perhaps one that is basically over. The Spanish international scored only 11 goals, down from 19 last year. His main role was acting as a rotation for any of the main forwards, and giving some energy to the side. Yet, Pedro made some key contributions even in his cameo roles. His bicycle kick goal against Real Sociedad was not just a brilliant bit of skill, but it all but sealed La Liga. And then, he fully sealed La Liga by assisting Lionel Messi's only goal against Atletico Madrid. And there was perhaps no better way of summing up his season than the fact that his only touch in the UCL final was an assist to Neymar in the final seconds to seal the win.

Grade: B

Munir El-Haddadi

Munir is as raw as they come, and many fans grow frustrated at him for that. But it's part of the learning process, and given his young age, Munir had a good campaign. His goalscoring return was too poor for a forward of his quality - only one goal. But let's be fair to the kid. He's still just a teenager, and his experience prior to last season was beyond limited. He had just made his Barcelona B debut a few months before being thrust into Lucho's system, and hoping he would have anywhere near the impact of Luis Suarez is basically impossible. This season was all about growth for him, which is fine - as long as it goes somewhere in the coming years.

Grade: B-

Sandro Ramirez

Sandro may not have as much potential as Munir, but he's much more of the finished article at the moment. His return - 4 goals in 12 appearances - was by no means spectacular, but it was good. And he did score a very important goal in a 1-0 win over Villarreal. Unlike Munir, Sandro spent a whole season at Barcelona B before 2014-15, and it showed. Let's not sell Sandro short either, he's also quite young and only likely to get better. An encouraging start.

Grade: B+

Adama Traore

Adama brings a lot of excitement, especially because of his physique and dribbling ability. He's got potential by the bucket, though of course he is also quite unpolished, like Munir. He only made 2 appearances, though he did score his first goal of his first-team career. Lucho either doesn't quite trust him yet or thinks he's better served by getting more regular playing time away from the first team, and a loan may beckon.

Grade: No grade, incomplete

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