Argentine star Lionel Messi has revealed that he wants Neymar to return to Barcelona this year because the Brazilian can help the club move forward, and confirmed that his former teammate was also looking to return to the ranks of the Spanish champions.
Barcelona spent most of the summer transfer window, which closed on January 2, negotiating with Paris St Germain to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou two years after his departure in a world record 222 million euros, but the Catalan club failed to reach an agreement with the French champions.
"In fact I would have liked Neymar to come back," Messi told Spanish Sport newspaper on Thursday.
"I understand that some people oppose this, which is normal given the way we left, but thinking from a sporting perspective I consider one of the best players in the world."
"Certainly (Neymar) would have increased our chances of achieving the desired results, and the club would have progressed in matters of sponsorship, image rights and development, but in the end the deal was not done," the Barcelona captain said.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomio said last week that the club had done everything possible to sign Neymar, but admitted that it was not possible to save the amount requested by Saint Germain to sell the striker, who has scored 105 goals in four seasons with Barcelona.
"I don't know what happened between the officials. I know they have spoken to Neymar and told me how things are going and I was really looking forward to his return," said Messi, who has yet to play in the new season with a calf injury.
|Messi training hard to return to the stadiums (networking sites)|
"I understand the difficulty of negotiations with PSG and Neymar because he is one of the best players, and the negotiations were not easy at all."
Barcelona's top scorer denied there was any intention to leave the club soon, although there was a clause in his contract allowing him to leave free at the end of each season if he wanted to.
"I can say that I want to stay in Barcelona as much as possible and end my career here because I am at home," said the Argentine.
"I want to stay as long as I am in good shape, play well and feel important in a successful project."