Barcelona manager Gerardo ‘tata’ Martino has called on Brazilian wonderkid, Neymar, to improve his goalscoring tally ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Celtic at the Camp Nou.
The £50m from Santos has not scored for the Baulgranas in five Champions League appearances while his efforts have ended up in the back of the net on four occasions in the Spanish Primera Division.
And as the Group H leaders prepare to miss their talismanic forward Lionel Messi and playmaker Cesc Fabregas, the onus is on the 21-year-old best player of the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup to step up his performance and ensure the Catalans grab the required one point to finish in that position.
“He (Neymar) should score more goals than he has so far,” admits Tata. “We don’t analyse any player simply by the goals he scores and lays on- it is a question of all facets of a player’s game.
“But at the moment the only question about Neymar is his finishing. He is not a goalscorer in the way that Leo Messi is, but he can score a lot of goals for us like Pedro, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.”
Spanish midfielder, Fabregas, scored one of Barca’s goals and provided the winner when they defeated Celtic in Glasgow in September, but his absence- due to suspension- could pave way for Xavi Hernandez and Andre Iniesta, who have now been cleared by the club’s medical staff for training, to return.
The Spanish champions come into the game on the back of a 4-1 win over Cartegena in the Copa del Rey.
Celtic are guaranteed to finish bottom of the log and Barca are already through to the next round but a loss for the hosts and a win for AC Milan over Ajax at the San Siro, means the Italians will take over at the top of the group standing.
“We have to be precise and quick in our build-up play and have to be effective in the way we move the ball about,” Martino added.
“We also have to be precise when we press for the ball to evade the possibility of Celtic playing on counter attack. It is important to put in a good performance- improving our performance is an obligation we have got.”