Neymar riles PSG with Barca taunt

He cites Barcelona's 2017 Champions League comeback as his best football moment, stokes rift with French club

Neymar playing in a five-a-side football tournament for his charity, Neymar Junior Project Institute, in Sao Paulo on Saturday. The Brazilian missed his club Paris Saint-Germain's first training session last Monday, insisting that he had a prior agre
Neymar playing in a five-a-side football tournament for his charity, Neymar Junior Project Institute, in Sao Paulo on Saturday. The Brazilian missed his club Paris Saint-Germain's first training session last Monday, insisting that he had a prior agreement to stay in Brazil to help his foundation.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SAO PAULO • Wantaway Neymar fired another shot in his battle with Paris Saint-Germain after stating his favourite football memory was Barcelona's against-all-odds last-16 Champions League win in March 2017, which he was a part of.

Asked by online sports channel Oh My Goal about his best changing room memory, the world's most expensive footballer at €222 million (S$339.6 million) chose the aftermath of that victory as the Catalan giants overcame a four-goal deficit for the greatest comeback in the competition's history.

"We all went crazy afterwards. It was the best possible feeling for all of us," the Brazil forward said in the interview, which was posted on Saturday night.

Neymar was speaking in Sao Paulo, ahead of his belated return to the French Ligue 1 champions, after insisting last week he had a prior agreement to stay in Brazil to help his foundation. His comments, however, will surely further strain his relationship with PSG.

It is no secret that Neymar wants out of the Parc des Princes and is angling for a return to the Nou Camp, where he spent four trophy-laden seasons before moving in the summer of 2017.

He missed the club's first training session last Monday, prompting PSG to issue a statement, declaring that they would take "appropriate action" against him.

Sporting director Leonardo has since said that "Neymar can leave PSG if there is an offer that suits everybody".

However, there have been few suitors as PSG are demanding a gargantuan transfer fee in excess of the €222 million that they paid.

The chances of him rejoining his former club has also been further complicated by last week's arrival of France forward Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for €120 million, which means they now have to offload players in order to raise further funds.

That has not stopped Neymar from stirring the pot, though. On Saturday, he posted a 10-second video on his Instagram page of a drawing that depicted him in a Barcelona shirt.

Accompanying the video was a verse from Isaiah 54:17 in the Bible: "No weapon turned against you will prosper."

The post led many to read between the lines, with French daily L'Equipe saying: "Everyone will see in this ambiguous message a hidden announcement by the PSG striker of his return to his old club."

Barcelona's famous 6-1 rout of PSG at home came after the latter had won the first leg of that tie 4-0 and were minutes away from reaching the quarter-finals.

Neymar scored in the 88th and 91st minute before setting up Spain defender Sergi Roberto for the winner five minutes into added time.

"What we felt when we scored the sixth goal, I've never felt anything like that, it was incredible," he told Oh My Goal.

All eyes will now be on whether Neymar, 27, returns to the French capital today, after his public relations company issued a statement saying: "After these events, he will show up normally on July 15 as PSG had been informed weeks ago."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2019, with the headline 'Neymar riles PSG with Barca taunt'. Subscribe