Barcelona forward Neymar has made people forget about Lionel Messi, says former Barca and Real Madrid striker Alfonso Perez.
The Brazilian superstar has stepped up in the absence of the four-time World Player of the Year winner, scoring 10 goals and giving an additional six assists in the 10 games since the Argentine went down with a knee injury on Sept. 26.
With Saturday's Clasico between the Catalan giants and Real looming, Alfonso, who has experienced the derby from both sides, expressed his surprise with the level the former Santos man has reached in Messi's stead.
"The injury [to Messi] has shown that Neymar and [Luis] Suarez are able to carry the team on their backs," Alfonso told Marca.
"Neymar's making even more of a difference. It seemed that the absence of Messi could undermine Barca, but Neymar, at the level he's shown, has made people forget about Messi."
Last week, Brazil manager Dunga declared the recent performances from the Selecao's No. 10 have been superior to both Messi and Real star Cristiano Ronaldo.
"If we look at the ranking by numbers and statistics, Neymar is superior right now," Dunga said ahead of Brazil's World Cup qualifying match against Argentina. "Messi is injured, Cristiano is expected to repeat what he did last year."
Barcelona received an encouraging sign regarding Messi's recovery on Monday.
The Barcelona No. 10, recovering from a torn knee ligament, officially returned to full training as he tries to return in time for the highly-anticipated clash with Los Blancos.