I would have loved it if Neymar returned: Messi

LIONEL MESSI
LIONEL MESSI

BARCELONA • Lionel Messi has taken umbrage at the Barcelona board for "not doing everything possible" to re-sign their former star Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

The wrangle was the biggest saga of the recently concluded summer transfer window, with the Brazil forward's desire to leave the Parc des Princes and return to his former La Liga club an open secret.

However, an agreement could not be reached, leaving Messi frustrated as he wanted to be reunited with his former teammate - they spent four seasons together - and admitted "he would love Neymar to have signed".

In an interview with Barcelona daily Diario Sport, he said: "Do you think Barca did everything possible to sign him?

"I don't know what happened with the board. I know that I spoke with Neymar and he told me how things were going. He was desperate to come back.

"It's logical that there are a lot of people who do not want him to come back (after his acrimonious exit in 2017). But thinking about things on a sporting level, he is one of the best in the world.

"Obviously, he would have increased our possibilities of getting the results that we all want. I would have loved it if he had come back."

The Barcelona captain, however, reassured fans he will not leave for as long as he feels he can make a difference for the Spanish champions.

AN ASSET

Thinking about things on a sporting level, he is one of the best in the world... he would have increased our possibilities of getting the results that we all want.

LIONEL MESSI, on what former teammate Neymar can bring to Barcelona.

The recent revelation that Messi's current deal includes a clause allowing him to leave for free next June has shocked the Nou Camp faithful, who are worried at the prospect of their talisman walking away for nothing at the end of the term.

But while he revealed that a confidentiality clause meant he could not discuss the exact details of his contract, the Argentina skipper said: "I can say that I want to be at Barcelona for as long as I can and have all my career here, because it's my home.

"I didn't want a long contract and to stay here just because I have a contract. I want to be in good physical shape, play and be important, and also see that there is a successful project.

"I want to keep on winning things with this club and doing important things. The release clause and the money don't mean much to me. I am motivated by other things, and the most important is to have a winning project."

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'I would have loved it if Neymar returned: Messi'. Print Edition | Subscribe