With the Argentina international’s move to Paris complete, the ex-Nigeria international suggests what the Blaugrana must do to regroup

Barcelona must “dig deep” and “show character” in their quest to move on without Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, according to former Blaugrana player Gbenga Okunowo.

Following his departure from the Camp Nou giants, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner joined Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal with the option of a further 12 months, having agreed to a €35m-per-year contract.

During his 21-year spell with the Spanish elite division side, Messi helped the team win the La Liga diadem on 10 occasions, four Champions Leagues, seven Copa del Rey diadems among several other honours.

As Ronald Koeman’s men begin life without their icon when the 2021-22 season commences, the former Barcelona defender suggests what his former club must do to move out of the 34-year-old’s shadow.

“Barcelona must dig deep and show character which I believe they will do,” Okunowo told Goal.

“The club management must also do their very best in making sure the void left by Messi does not affect the structure and progress of the team.

“Having spent 21 years at Barcelona, it’s very obvious that he would be missed because he has contributed so much to the club.

“However, I still feel there are other players who will step up to be counted.”

Okunowo PS

Messi is the club’s top scorer and top appearance maker of all time, with 672 goals from 778 matches and many have claimed the 26-time Spanish kings may struggle in his absence.

The former Nigeria right-back disapproves of this sentiment, claiming the Catalans’ tradition would fuel their desire to win more silverware.

“With or without Messi, the club will always have ambitions to get stronger every season and win trophies,” he continued.

“Barcelona boast a tradition of football excellence and I strongly believe this will push them not to settle for less when they compete at any given point.

“The Catalans are arguably the biggest club in the world hence, the winning mentality will continue.”

After representing Barcelona for three years, Okunowo joined Ionikos before having short spells at Dinamo Bucuresti, KF Tirana, Metalurh Donetsk, VB Sports, Waltham Forest before drawing the curtain on his career at NPFL side Sunshine Stars.

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