Lionel Messi thought there was a chance he could be lining up against Neymar in Spain this season rather than with him.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar was linked with a return to Barcelona in one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer, but a deal failed to materialise and Messi feared Real Madrid would snap him up.
In the end Neymar remained in France where he is attempting to win back the support of the club’s fans, who have booed him this season.
In an interview with Catalan radio RAC1, Messi revealed he would have welcomed his former team-mate back to the La Liga champions saying.
“At the sporting level, Neymar is one of the best in the world, a player unbalancing, different and obviously having it on our team would have meant to have many more options to achieve the goals,” he said, before revealing his Bernabeu worry.
“Honestly, especially in this market, I thought that if Neymar did not come here, he would go to Madrid.
“I thought he was really looking forward to leaving, for a change, to leave Paris. I thought [Real president Florentino Perez] and Madrid would do something to sign it.”
Neymar spent four seasons at Barcelona before signing for PSG in 2017 for a world record fee of £198m.
The forward has endured remarkable form in Ligue 1 scoring 38 goals in 42 appearances for the French Champions despite suffering some injury setbacks. However, he has been unable to improve Paris Saint-Germain’s fortune on the European stage with the side crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16 during his first two seasons at the club at the hands of Real Madrid and Manchester United.
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Messi believes his former team-mate has regrets about leaving Barcelona, saying: “I think that Neymar is sorry to have left.”
The Argentine added: “I think that soon after he saw he was wrong and that he had made a bad decision. Of course, you should ask him. Knowing it and knowing what is happening, I think that yes.”