Lionel Messi was believed to be one of the reasons why Neymar left Barcelona in 2017. However, those appear quite baseless rumours with the Argentine having shown a lot of interest in getting the Brazilian back to the Camp Nou this summer. After several weeks of negotiation with PSG, Barcelona gave up on Neymar, who will remain at the French outfit for the near future
Messi has come out with a stunning claim that Barcelona did not do enough to sign the 27-year-old. According to the BBC, Messi said:
“He was desperate to come back. I don’t know if the club really tried or not. I would have loved to have Neymar back.
“I personally think Neymar is one of the best players in the world and having him in our squad would increase our chances of achieving our objectives.”
Barcelona initially brought Neymar from Santos with a view of making him the long term replacement for Messi. However, Messi showed no signs of slowing down as he went from strength to strength in each campaign. It is incredibly rare that a player like Messi emerges and Barcelona were simply not convinced that Neymar would be able to take the mantle of the Argentine in the long-term. Neymar decided to end his Barcelona adventure after growing tired of being the ‘second-most’ important player in the team.
Neymar came up with just 105 goals over a span of four years and 186 games for Barcelona. Messi required just two seasons and a handful of games to hit this tally. Hence, it was not a surprise that Neymar was pushed behind in the race for making headlines or the Ballon d’Or award.
The move to PSG may have initially helped Neymar to step out from the shadows of Messi, but it was not long before Kylian Mbappe was able to gain the limelight at the Parc des Princes.
Messi and several other key members of the Barcelona squad were aware of the growing discontent in the Neymar camp. Thus, began a secret mission to persuade the striker to make a return to the Camp Nou. After all, it became evident that Messi’s time at the club was coming to a close. At 32, the superstar is approaching the end of his stellar career and he is thought to be keen on playing a couple of years with Newell’s Old Boys – his former club.
The return of Neymar was seen as a key factor in helping Barcelona hit their former heights, as recent transfers – like Coutinho and Dembele – were not working as well as expected.
Barcelona, though, never appeared serious about bringing back the former star. The financial implications of the deal would have been a big burden on the club. After the signing of Griezmann, the club were left with so little transfer budget that we had to opt for an unsecured loan just to bring Neymar back on a loan deal. It was almost impossible that Barcelona would have been able to afford the huge transfer fees and wage demands to pull this transfer off.
Messi’s comments, though, are a clear sign of frustration. Things have not been going well at Barca for quite a while. Neymar’s arrival would have caused a spring in the step. As it stands, Barca wait for the return of Messi to improve form.