Sporting CP Coach Jorge Jesus believes Barcelona are weaker without Neymar and Ousmane Demebele is ‘not on the same level’.
The Brazilian forward joined Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222m deal earlier this summer and the French forward – who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury – joined from Borussia Dortmund.
Sporting host the Blaugrana this week in the Champions League group stages with tactician Jesus stating the exit of the 25-year-old will hurt Barca.
“Neymar is one of the greats and I believe he’s one of the best in the world,” Jesus told an interview with Marca.
“Demebele is a good player but he’s not on the same level, he isn’t a creator and Barca cannot allow someone of Neymar’s level to leave.
“But there are still players like Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, and Andres Iniesta and others, who can pose lots of problems and who don’t give opponents any chances.
“Barca are playing very well this year and so is Messi, and when those two issues align then they are almost impossible to defeat.
“We hope to play well, to the same standard as we did against Madrid but in this competition every opponent is very tough – they are champions, giants.”