Neymar still wants to rejoin Barcelona, says Messi
Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar remains determined to return to Barcelona, Lionel Messi said on Thursday (Feb 20).
The Barca captain added that he wants Neymar to turn them into an all-conquering force again, as he does not believe they are good enough at the moment to win the Champions League.
Barca launched an offensive to bring the Brazilian back last year from PSG yet, ultimately, failed to agree a price with the Ligue 1 champions.
But Messi said the 28-year-old Neymar is looking forward to coming back to the Catalans.
“He is very excited about returning, he has always shown that he regrets what happened,” the 32-year-old told Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
“He did a lot to return and that could be the first step he took to try and come back.
“Neymar has always been a top-level player and different to the rest. He is unpredictable, he takes players on and he scores lots of goals.
“On a sporting level, Neymar is one of the best in the world and I’d love for him to come back.”
Neymar formed a mesmeric partnership with Messi and Luis Suarez for three seasons, including winning a remarkable Treble in 2015.
But, in the middle of the club’s pre-season tour of 2017, the Brazilian joined PSG for a world-record fee of 222 million euros (S$334m), angering supporters and teammates.
“It’s normal that the fans felt that way because of how he left, and I was also upset about it at the time and we tried to convince him to not go,” Messi said.
“But, at the end of the day, we all want to win and have the best players and so do the fans.
“As I’ve said before, he’s one of the best players around and gave us a lot on the pitch.”
Barca trail Real Madrid by one point in the La liga title race, but Messi is more worried about their chances of winning the Champions League, which they have not lifted since 2015. They visit Serie A side Napoli in the last 16, first leg on Feb 25.
“This year, us and Real have both been inconsistent in the title race, but we’ll be fighting each other until the end of the season,” said Messi, who is Barca’s all-time top scorer and their most decorated player.
“But if we want to win the Champions League, we have to keep growing a lot more as a team because, right now in the shape we are in, we will not be able to challenge for it.” – REUTERS