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Messi has masked Barcelona’s Champions League scoring issues

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The No.10 has been the saviour far too often

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

‘Messi-dependence’ certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, but nor is it one that’s ever truly gone away, as some have suggested.

The Blaugranes have worked hard at sharing the load, but, invariably, it falls to the captain and No.10 to bail them out of a hole.

It’s a common occurrence in La Liga, but never has it been better evidenced in the Champions League than over the past couple of seasons.

Top scorer in the entire competition during 2018/19, his application in the scoring stakes when compared to his team-mates is striking.

Since 2016/17, Ousmane Dembele has scored in Europe on four occasions, mirroring Neymar’s output.

A dry spell for Luis Suarez for most of last year means that he only just edges the pair with five to his name, and ‘Own Goal’ has seven.

Then there’s an almighty chasm to the Argentinian... with 29.

TWENTY NINE!

Frankly, it’s astonishing that Barca have come anywhere close to the top prize during the last two campaigns, given the lack of output from those others in situ.

It’s perhaps with that type of stat in mind that the board of the club should be looking for an out and out goal scorer.

The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Neymar and Rodrigo, all players that we’ve been linked with in the recent past, have their merits.

But none are what would be classed as a ‘classic No.9.’ The type of player that lives for scoring goals and not much else.

Domestically, Suarez has weighed in with his fair share, but has often been kept quiet in the premier European competition.

Though he’s certainly not been mentioned as a possibility at this point, Mauro Icardi wouldn’t be the worst signing in the world.

He can be spiky and controversial yes, but in six Champions League appearances last season, he racked up four goals, and had a one in two record in Serie A.

At 26, he’s the right age to be complementing what the Catalans already have in terms of strike force, and the responsibility for leading the line and scoring goals comes naturally to him.

At present in any event, we just have a long line of ‘ifs, buts and maybe’s,’ and until someone arrives and puts a marker down, we’re never going to know just how successful they’ll be.

What’s clear is that this area has been dreadfully overlooked by the technical department, and if Messi, god forbid, should get a significant injury at any point next season, the Blaugranes could struggle to make the latter stages in Europe again.

The warning signs are already there...