Messi doubts Barca’s Neymar pursuit, addresses own Nou Camp future
Lionel Messi admitted he is unsure whether Barcelona did all they can to sign Neymar this summer, while the Argentine also insisted he does not want to leave the Nou Camp amid reports he can leave on a free at the end of the season - so long as he's part of a winning team.
Barca were locked in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain as Neymar looked to seal a sensational return to the club two years after departing for a world-record £200m.
However, a move failed to materialise before the window closed, with some reports suggesting Barca only appeared to try and sign Neymar to appease both Messi and Luis Suarez.
" I would have loved to have Neymar back. I understand those people who are against his return and it’s understandable for what happened with ‘Ney’ and the way that he left."
“But thinking about it on a sporting level, I personally think Neymar is one of the best players in the world and having him in our squad would increase our chances of achieving our objectives.
“But, in the end, it didn’t happen and we have to only think about the squad we have and focus on our goals.”
Asked if he thinks Barca did their utmost to sign Neymar, Messi added: “To be honest, I don’t know. I didn’t have much information about how the negotiations were going to say whether or not Barcelona did everything possible.
And regarding reports it was only to make Messi and the dressing room happy, he said: “I don’t know what happened with the board.
“I know that I spoke with Ney and he told me how things were going. He was desperate to come back.
“I don’t know if the club really tried or not. What I do know, Neymar was hoping it would happen. I also understand it’s very difficult to negotiate with PSG after all their previous back and forth issues with Barcelona.
“And it’s difficult because Neymar is one of the best around. Negotiations are never easy. I can’t offer an opinion because I don’t know everything. I know what was published and what they said.
" Obviously I wanted him to come not just for the sporting side of things but also for the club. In terms of the image, marketing, sponsorships and to keep growing. It would have given the club a lift too. But it didn’t happen."
"Neymar is one of the best players in the world and having him in our squad would increase our chances of achieving our objectives."
Messi was then asked about his own influence on matters, and whether the dressing room demanded Neymar’s return.
“They report a lot of things but asked the club to sign him? No. Obviously we talk about what we’ve heard and that Neymar could arrive.
“We gave our opinions on whether it’d be good if he came or not but we never said they had to sign him. We gave our opinion in the same way we did with Griezmann and other players who arrived. And even those who didn’t end up coming in.
“I’m used to it by now. It isn’t the first time I’ve heard that either. It’s clear this isn’t the case. The same thing is said about the national team. They claim I pick the players and the coaches or that my father does. I don’t pay too much attention to it. I know what my role and the truth is.
" Obviously not [I don’t control things]. I’m just another player. The only thing I want is to win and continue to lift titles. I also want to win another Champions League and give my best to the team, which is by playing football."
Messi on his own future
President Josep Maria Bartomeu said Messi’s contract stipulates he can leave for free at the end of the season, but the player said he wants to stay as long as possible, providing they keep winning.
Messi added: “I can’t confirm anything because there are confidentiality agreements in our contracts. What I can say is that I want to be at Barcelona as long as possible.
" I’ve said throughout my career that this is my home. But I also don’t want to have a long-term contract and only be here because of it. I want to be here because physically I’m fine, to play and be an important member of the squad."
“And as I said before, I need to see there’s a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club. For me, money or a clause don’t mean anything. Other things motivate me and the most important thing is having a winning team.
Messi Suárez mateGetty Images
“My idea is to continue here for as long as I can perform well and my body allows me to do that. Afterwards, as I said before, my contract isn’t something that worries me or even something I manage myself. My father handles that with the president or whoever he needs to talk to. I only express my thoughts.
“Obviously, I want to win and I want to win at this club. This is my home. I don’t have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning.
“My father handles that [negotiations] but we aren’t talking with Barça. He would have told me if so.”