Barcelona have fared admirably without Neymar because “the best players don’t make the best team”, says Ivan Rakitic.
The Croatian midfielder concedes that the Brazilian forward is” one of the best players in the world”, but Barca have worked hard to cover his loss.
Having seen Neymar leave for Paris Saint-Germain in a record-breaking €222 million deal, fears were raised regarding how those at Camp Nou would fare in his absence – especially when Ousmane Dembele suffered an untimely injury shortly after being drafted in as his €105m replacement.
Barca are, however, perched at the top of the La Liga standings having gone unbeaten through 15 games, and Rakitic admits Neymar has not been missed.
"He is one of the best players in the world, but sometimes the best players in the world don't make the best team," he told Sportske Novosti.
"We have overcome his departure with collective work.
"We have worked as hard as possible and have been able to win."
Barca have also progressed to the last-16 of the Champions League, where they are scheduled to meet Chelsea, and are hunting down another Copa del Rey triumph.
Big games are set to come thick and fast over the next couple of months, with a Clasico clash with Real Madrid looming large on December 23.
Rakitic said of that contest, with the Blancos currently eight points off the title pace: "One of the two teams will have a sad Christmas.
"It will be great game once again and I'm sure we have a chance of winning it.
"Winning would be a nice way to finish off the year."
As for an impending European encounter with reigning Premier League champions Chelsea, Rakitic added: "It will be a great tie, like some of the others that have come up.
"There's uncertainty because it's a long way away, but we'll have to prepare for it really well.
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"We'll work game by game, hoping to win each of them."
Before Barca’s attention can turn to Real Madrid and Chelsea, Ernesto Valverde’s side have a home date with Deportivo La Coruna to take in on Sunday.