But just 11 eleven matches into the 2017-18 campaign, the hysteria surrounding the £200 million sale of the Brazilian superstar seems an age ago.
The Catalan giants boast a four-point over Valencia at the top of La Liga and, perhaps more importantly, an eight-point gap between themselves and Real Madrid.
In addition to their comfortable start on the domestic front, Barca need only avoid defeat in one of their remaining Champions League fixtures against Juventus and Sporting to progress to the knockout phase.
Ernesto Valverde has hardly put a foot wrong during his first term in charge, though it remains to be seen if the void left by Neymar will eventually expose any cracks in his side.
Despite key players enduring lasting patches of poor form, the Nou Camp club haven’t tasted defeat in any competition since going down to Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.
Lionel Messi has carried his team for much of the season with 12 league goals to date, only three less than the rest of the squad combined.
Luis Saurez – who has been a shadow of his usual deadly self – last scored in mid-October against Atletico Madrid, which was just his third for the campaign.
DID BARCA REALLY REPLACE NEYMAR?
So, with goals being hard to come by of late, it seems at least one of the concerns raised by Neymar leaving has materialised to some extent.
The Barcelona hierarchy were understandably eager to bring in a world-class striker off the back of his loss, but no moves ever came to fruition.
However, that’s not to say they didn’t have the opportunity to secure one of the most prolific frontmen on the planet.
BARCELONA STUCK WITH SUAREZ INSTEAD
Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo claim Barca were offered Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang only for them to opt out of negotiating with Borussia Dortmund due to already having Suarez on the books.
Reluctant to pay up for another central attacker, the Blaugrana chose to spend big on Ousmane Dembele instead.
Over time, the French winger is expected to replicate the goals, speed and skill Neymar brought to Barcelona for four seasons.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old and his new employers, a knee injury will halt his progress for some time yet.
Although Barcelona look on track to win at least one piece of silverware this term, it’s tempting speculate whether they could end up regretting their decision to snub Aubemeyang.
Did Barcelona make the right decision in signing Dembele over Aubameyang? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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