With Neymar telling PSG he wants to leave the club, and Barcelona making a bid to bring him back to the Nou Camp,
Messi central to Neymar move
“Messi is a central player in all of this. Messi is not a stroppy player – people have portrayed him as such falsely. But when he sneezes, Barcelona catches a cold.
“[Josep Maria] Bartomeu, the president, has said before he leaves – and he must quit the club in 2021 at the latest – he wants to leave Messi renewed once more.
“Whether Messi is saying ‘get me Neymar’ or whether he’s whispering ‘before we sit down to negotiate, I want the front line reinforced with Neymar’, the fact is: Messi wants Neymar back.
“He, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar – even though they’re different characters – are very friendly. Messi found a partner that understood him technically, who served him and who created masses of space. The last time Barcelona won the treble, they had that ‘MSN’ up front.
“It’s clear Messi believes his route back to the Champions League isn’t just Neymar specifically, but more people supplying goals around him. Messi is saying ‘if you want me to sign a new contract, first renew Neymar’.”
“These are two clubs that have got a degree of bad feeling between them. The boards don’t get on particularly well, which stems from the fact a couple of seasons ago, this current board at the Camp Nou were embarrassed hugely by saying ‘no way is Neymar leaving’. Embarrassment like that isn’t easily forgotten.
He explained to the Transfer Talk podcast how Lionel Messi is driving Barca’s pursuit of Neymar and what he will give the club if they agree to his demand.
Hunter also looks at which players the La Liga side may offer PSG in return for their star player, and how Barca may line up next season if Neymar does make a sensational return.
“Saying ‘do Barcelona have the money?’ doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Barcelona have spent with such frenzy – particularly in the amount paid for Coutinho – they needed to take a £50m loan to complete the buyout of Antoine Griezmann.
“Can they go and buy Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain? No. Paris Saint-Germain have said ‘this is a €300m player’ – well, no he’s not, and Barcelona don’t think that either. It’s a stare down between the two clubs right now.”