Lionel Messi says he wanted Neymar to return to Barcelona this year as the Brazilian would have helped the club take a leap forward, adding that his former team mate was looking forward to rejoining the La Liga champions.
Barca spent the bulk of the close season negotiating with Paris St Germain to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou two years after he left for a world record 222 million euros ($245 million) but the Catalans failed to strike a deal with the Ligue 1 champions.
“The truth is I would have loved him to come back to us,” Barca captain Messi told Spanish newspaper Sport on Thursday.
“I understand some people were against it and that’s normal considering everything that happened and how he left us, but thinking about it on a sporting level, for me Neymar is one of the best players in the world.
“Obviously he would have increased our chances of getting the results that we all want. The club would have taken a leap forward, in terms of sponsors, our image, our growth, but in the end it didn’t happen.”