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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Martino lauds Neymar influence

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has commended Neymar's smooth transition into European football, insisting the Brazilian's impact should not be judged on goals alone.

Neymar is finding his feet at Barcelona.
Neymar has impressed Martino.

Neymar has largely been used as a substitute this season, but was rewarded with a start in Saturday's 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, with his performance impressing Martino.

The Argentine coach defended his decision to slowly introduce Neymar into the first team after the 21-year-old's successful Confederations Cup campaign and praised the attacker's early form at his new club.

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"The press judge how he has adapted by asking whether he has scored goals or not, but he does a fantastic job in creating chances and recovering the ball," Martino told AS. "He has adapted very quickly and I'm very happy with what he has done so far.

"Don't forget that he had a long summer with the Confederations Cup, his hectic transfer to the club and the long trips he has had to make which have prevented him from training properly. We are very satisfied with everything he has offered us."

Martino's tactics have been criticised this season, particularly after Barca had less possession than Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, but the 50-year-old denies he is transforming the Catalan giants' style.

"I don't get annoyed by the debates," he added. "Whenever you have a team that has been as successful as this side, these debates will occur, especially when the coach isn't from Catalonia or from Holland.

"I haven't come here to make any changes, and if you want to question our possession, then last year the average was 66% and this year it's 65.8%.

"If because of that 0.2% you want to say we have changed everything, then go ahead. And with regards to us playing long passes, I remember that Rafa Marquez used to play here, so it's not as if the club hasn't seen that before."


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