When Luis Suarez handed Lionel Messi his Golden Boot award last week in Barcelona he was asked if his team-mate was a good neighbour – the pair live in the same seaside town just outside of the city. He joked about benefiting from the security around Messi’s house.

On Sunday night, as he toiled without much individual reward, there was more evidence that there is another neighbour he is missing this season – few players at Barcelona have suffered more since Neymar’s departure than Suarez.

In the Valencia game he set up the goal that never was for Messi but struggled to stay onside against the home team’s well-drilled defence and once more looked a shadow of the forward who has terrorised La Liga defences since joining from Liverpool.

Former Arsenal centre back Gabriel marshalled him well and Barcelona needed a sublime Messi assist and good run and finish from left back Jordi Alba to salvage a point from the game.

Over the previous three seasons Suarez was the meat in the Neymar-Messi sandwich. His job was to bully centre backs and finish moves, while the other two dazzled either side of him. Now Neymar is gone and it’s no longer a front three. He was upfront alongside Messi on Sunday but with Barcelona’s best player wandering deep to look for the ball he was often on his own.

The early balls that Luis Enrique wanted his team to play were food and drink to Suarez but that direct style has disappeared. Barcelona had 75 per cent of possession in the first half against Valencia on Sunday. They defended deep and Barcelona tried to pass their way around them. Suarez often looked as uncomfortable as Diego Costa looks for Spain when he plays centre forward for a team that look like they could cope without having one.