Lionel Messi “would have loved to have Neymar back” at Barcelona this summer.
Neymar’s protracted and proposed return to Barcelona was one of the most enduring transfer sagas of the latest window, as the Catalan side pondered numerous ways to re-sign a player who left them in 2017.
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It felt like it was time for the Brazilian to become a footballer again at the place where he enjoyed the most success, winning two La Liga titles and a Champions League in four years.
But Barca could not match the valuation PSG placed on the world’s most expensive player, meaning he must pick up another four domestic trophies and suffer an ignominious last-16 European exit before his departure becomes a possibility again.
For the first time, Barca star Messi has spoken out on the speculation and confirmed that he hoped to play alongside his former teammate again.
“I would have loved to have Neymar back,” Messi told Catalan newspaper Sport.
“I understand those people who are against his return and it’s understandable for what happened with ‘Ney’ and the way that he left.
“But thinking about it on a sporting level, 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.
“But, in the end, it didn’t happen and we have to only think about the squad we have and focus on our goals.
“I don’t know what happened with the board. I know that I spoke with Ney and he told me how things were going. He was desperate to come back.
“I don’t know if the club really tried or not. What I do know, Neymar was hoping it would happen.”