MESSI WANTED NEY­MAR BACK Star Barca Striker Reck­ons Brazil­ian Would Have Boosted Chances Of Get­ting De­sired Re­sults

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Lionel Messi and Ney­mar

Barcelona: 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 but t he 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.”

Barca pres­i­dent Josep Maria Bar­tomeu said last week that the club did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to sign Ney­mar, but ad­mit­ted they could not meet PSG’s ask­ing price for the for­ward, who hit 105 goals in four seasons for the Cata­lans.

“I don’t know what happened with the di­rec­tors, I know they were speak­ing with Ney­mar, he told me how things were go­ing. He was re­ally look­ing for­ward to com­ing back,” Messi, who has been un­able to play this sea­son due to a calf in­jury, said.

“I un­der­stand it’s dif­fi­cult to ne­go­ti­ate with PSG and with Ney­mar be­cause he’s one of the best. Th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions are never easy.”

Barca’s all-time top scorer also said he had no plans to quit the Cata­lans any time soon after it was con­firmed by the club that his con­tract con­tains a clause that al­lows him to de­cide at the end of each sea­son whether he wants to leave for free. “I can say that I want to be at Barcelona for as long as I can and end my ca­reer here be­cause this is my home,” he said. “I want to stay here if I can stay in good shape, play well, feel im­por­tant and if I see we have a win­ning project.”

Barca chal­lenged to ‘make things click’ against Va­len­cia

With Messi still in­jured, fal­ter­ing La Liga cham­pi­ons Barcelona host Va­len­cia on Satur­day need­ing to prove they can pro­duce big per­for­mances with­out their tal­is­man. Messi has not played a minute of foot­ball this sea­son due to a calf in­jury and with­out him Barca have made their worst start to a cam­paign since 2008, tak­ing four points from three games. Ous­mane Dem­bele and Luis Suarez also re­main in­jured ahead of the visit of Va­len­cia.

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