BARCELONA

Neymar or Lautaro Martínez: Who should Barcelona sign?

Neymar and Lautaro Martínez have been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona. We have used Opta data to see who would best suit the blaugranas.

Neymar v Lautaro Martinez: Who should Barcelona sign?

Football may have been put on the back burner because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Barcelona are reportedly already planning their transfer business ahead of the window reopening. The LaLiga champions have been short of options in attack this season and much of that has been down to the injury problems they've had with Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé spending time out. The club is looking for reinforcements.

Two players continue to be continually linked with a switch, with Barça supposedly torn between a move for Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martínez or former blaugrana NeymarMartínez has once again starred for Inter this season and the possibility of a move to Catalonia has been talked up by compatriot Lionel Messi. But speaking earlier this week, Rivaldo claimed Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar would be a better option for his former club given his added experience.

Using Opta stats, we compare the form of the two players in all competitions this season and establish just who would be the better signing for Barcelona.

Goals 

Whoever Barcelona bring in to strengthen their attack, they will need to have the ability to link up with others in the final third and continue getting the best out of star man Messi. But first and foremost, Quique Setién's side need a goalscorer that can find the net and make a difference in key games.

Both Neymar and Martínez have the ability to do just that, scoring 18 and 16 goals respectively in all competitions this season. However, Neymar has played nine games fewer than Martínez, giving him a minutes-per-goal ratio of 106 compared to 152.

All-round ability

There is little between the two players in terms of where their goals are scored, each netting two apiece from strikes outside the penalty box this season. Neymar is comfortable using both feet to find the net, though, using his left foot seven times and his right 10 times to beat the opposition goalkeeper.

Inter striker Martínez, by comparison, has only managed a couple of goals with his weaker left. But the Argentina international is better in the air, the stats suggest, given he has scored three headed goals in 2019-20 - two more than Neymar.

The deciding factor in which of the two players Barcelona should sign may well come down to their on-field relationship with Messi. Neymar knows Messi well from his previous four-year stint at Camp Nou, while Martínez regularly links up with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner at international level. In terms of pure team play, this is another category Neymar edges having assisted nine goals this season, with Martínez lagging behind on two.

Big game credentials

If Barcelona are to spend a nine-figure sum on a player, they will expect to be reimbursed with goals in big matches and at key moments in games. It is arguably Martínez's form on the biggest club stage of them all, the Champions League, that has fuelled rumours of a move to Barcelona.

The 22-year-old scored in four successive Champions League games during the group stage, making him the fifth Argentinian player to do so, though it was not enough to prevent Inter from exiting the competition.

PSG remain alive and well in the competition and that is in large down to Neymar, who scored in both legs of the last-16 comeback win against Borussia Dortmund. In fact, since joining the French giants in 2017, Neymar has been involved in a goal every 70 minutes in UEFA's showpiece competition. It is that ability to have a say on the biggest matches, plus his individual brilliance and underrated ability to set up others, which just gives Neymar the edge over Martínez at this moment in time.