The injury to Lionel Messi is bad news for Barcelona and extra work for Ernesto Valverde. The coach must find a solution to replace the irreplaceable, starting with Inter Milan and Real Madrid this week. There's no one who can what Messi does, so the whole team must take his place. There are various options for changes...
Coutinho, TAKE CONTROL
The Brazilian is, without doubt, the player who must take on Messi's role on the pitch. It's not about trying to copy Messi, because that's not possible, but leading through example, starting the play and playing with freedom to make Barça less predictable. Couthinho has shown he's a player cabalpe of linking with the midfield, but always with doing damage in the final third in mind. He must expolit those qualities in the coming weeks.
THE ATTACKING OPTION
Ousmane Dembele, or even Malcom, are the attacking options Valverde has. The Frenchman was the chosen one to come on when Messi was injured against Seville. His performance was inconsistent and he was even jeered by the Camp Nou crowd. His selection which suggest a 4-3-3, with one of the three free to drop into midfield (Coutinho).
THE DEFENSIVE OPTION
If Ernesto Valverde decides to opt for a fourth midfielder and a more physical team, the solution could be Arturo Vidal. The presence of the Chilean would mean a change of system, to 4-4-2, leaving the attacking in the hands of Coutinho and Luis Suarez. Sergi Roberto or Rafinha could also come into a four-man midfield.