Frenkie De Jong says that Barcelona are still finding life hard without Lionel Messi.
The legendary Argentine left the Nou Camp last summer after 20 years in Catalonia in which he won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League, and racked up 474 goals in 520 appearances.
But following Barcelona's well-documented financial problems, they and Messi were unable to find a way to keep him at the club, resulting in a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
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And De Jong - who spent two seasons alongside Messi - says that the Blaugrana still haven't got over his exit.
Talking to the Guardian, De Jong said: “First of all I thought it [Messi's departure] wasn’t true.
“I was collecting my dad and brother from the airport. Then I got a message: ‘Messi is leaving Barcelona'. A bit later we got indications it was really happening.
"At first you just can’t believe it, even though there were rumours throughout the summer. But I never took it into serious consideration, so when it happened it was a shock.
“We still miss him. If someone like him is not at the club any more, then things are suddenly very different.
“If you have such a player in your team, you just try to find him as much as possible on the pitch – so the game is adjusted to him, which is logical.
“So when he leaves you have to adjust to it as a player and team.
“I think he is the best in pretty much all aspects of football. Whether we did finishing drills, positioning plays or other training games: he was the best.
"No praise about him is exaggerated. For me he is the best ever."
Despite no longer playing with the 34-year-old, De Jong appears content at Barcelona - even if he has been surprised at how the club has become so uncompetitive for the game's top titles.
“I’m very happy I’m at Barcelona. From a young age I’ve wanted to be here, so in that way it has been a dream come true," the 24-year-old said.
"But, of course, I would have liked to win more trophies than we did in my first two years. I expected more in that sense, let’s put it that way.
"But other than that, I’m very happy here and hopefully for many more years.”
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