Advice from Lionel Messi: I advised Neymar against joining PSG

Luis Suarez recently made a revelation about a conversation he had with Lionel Messi about Neymar leaving Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain back in 2017. According to Suarez, he and Messi warned Neymar against making the controversial move. Neymar, who had been with Barcelona for four years and was part of the team’s 2015 treble-winning side, activated his €222m (£199m) buyout clause with the move to PSG, effectively cutting Barcelona out of any negotiations.

In addition to a significant increase in wages, Neymar had the opportunity to emerge from Messi’s shadow and become the superstar of a club by moving to Paris. However, by 2019, reports indicated that he was yearning to return to Camp Nou.

“We were very good friends, and we knew if we fulfilled our roles on the pitch, we would make Barcelona great,” Suarez reflected in an interview. “If one of us did not play well, the other two would make the difference. It was a spectacular relationship. We told him it was a mistake to go to PSG. If Ney wanted to be the best, he had to stay by Leo’s side. But, he made his decision, and it left a void in the team.”

The move did not yield the expected results for either party. Despite consistently dominating French football, PSG failed repeatedly in their main goal of winning the Champions League during Neymar’s six seasons in Paris. Additionally, Neymar struggled to stay on the pitch due to various injuries, averaging fewer than 30 appearances per season across all competitions.

Neymar is now 31 and playing in the Saudi Pro League with Al Hilal, but a recent ACL injury has sidelined him until potentially the 2024/25 season. Meanwhile, Barcelona won La Liga and the Copa del Rey in the first season after Neymar’s departure, but they have failed to win another Champions League trophy since 2015.

Neymar’s departure and the influx of money from the move also led to a series of reckless spending at Barcelona, culminating in over €400m being spent on transfer fees alone to sign players like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann between 2017 and 2019. This overspending ultimately left Barcelona unable to register a new contract with Lionel Messi, who consequently moved to PSG.

Suarez’s revelation underscores the impact Neymar’s departure had not only on PSG, but also on Barcelona. Despite the potential for significant earnings and individual success in Paris, Neymar’s move seems to have left a lasting void in both teams’ dynamics. Whether Neymar’s decision to leave ultimately furthered his career remains to be seen, and only time will tell the long-lasting effects of the transfer.

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