Terrible if Neymar joins Real: Messi

BUENOS AIRES • It would be a major blow to Barcelona if Neymar moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Real Madrid, former club mate Lionel Messi said on Tuesday.

The Argentinian, who won the Champions League and two of his LaLiga titles with Neymar alongside him at Barca, said he had spoken to the Brazilian about rumours linking him with a return to Spain.

"It would be terrible, because of all that Ney means to Barcelona," Messi told Argentina's TyC Sports.

"If he ends up at Real Madrid it would be a major blow to us. And on a footballing level Madrid would be much stronger than they already are."

When asked if he had told the Brazilian not even to think about going to Madrid, a smiling Messi said: "He knows what I think, I've already told him."

Neymar left Barcelona last August to join PSG for €222 million (S$351.7 million), becoming the world's most expensive football player in a transfer that upset Barcelona fans.

Yet media reports that he might leave the French capital and move to Madrid have been circulating for months, prompting the PSG chairman to declare earlier this week that Neymar will "2,000 per cent" be in Paris next season.

The Brazilian has refused to address the speculation and said he is concentrating on recovering from a foot injury in time for next month's World Cup.

Messi, the five-time World Player of the Year, also said he was looking forward to the tournament in Russia and was targeting at least a semi-final place with Argentina.

Beaten finalists four years ago in Brazil, Argentina have not won a major international title since lifting the Copa America in 1993.

"It's a weight that we carry and we want to overcome it," he said.

Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16 before facing Nigeria and Croatia in Group D.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Terrible if Neymar joins Real: Messi'. Print Edition | Subscribe