‘A phenomenon’ – What Lionel Messi and Neymar have said about each other

After bidding an emotional farewell to Barcelona, Lionel Messi has decided to join Paris Saint-Germain and reunite with Neymar. 

The pair spent four years playing together at the Nou Camp, winning two La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

We’ve looked at what they have said about each other over the years.

‘He has great potential’

“He’s going to get it [the Balon d’Or], through his qualities, the way he is, I’ve no doubt that he can at some time win it,” Messi said in 2014.

“He has great potential, he’s a player who has a lot of qualities and he can go as far as he wants. I’m lucky enough to rub shoulders with terrific players on the pitch and he’s among them.”

‘Very special’

“Honestly, it’s difficult, very difficult for me to talk about Messi, because it was very special for me at Barcelona, I say this to everybody,” Neymar told Rede Globo’s Esporte Espetacular in February 2019.

“At the moment when I needed the most support, the best player in the world arrived and gave me a hand. He said: ‘Come here, I’m here to help you.'”

‘One of the best players in the world’

“The truth is I would have loved him to come back to us [Barcelona],” Messi told Spanish newspaper Sport in September 2019.

“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.”

‘From another planet’

“The two who are above all others today are Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi,” Neymar said to Brazilian YouTube channel Desimpedidos in 2018. “For all modesty, today I am the best player in the world – because they are from another planet.”

READ: 15 brilliant La Liga records that Lionel Messi holds after Barcelona departure

‘He gave all the players a lift’

“Neymar is one of the best in the world and I’d love him to come back,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo in February 2020. “He is a very happy person who is always smiling and enjoys himself on and off the pitch. He gave all the players a lift.

“It’s normal for the fans to feel [resentment about his possible return] because of the way he left, and that also bothered me at the time because we tried to do everything possible to try to convince him not to do it.

“At the end of the day, we all want to win. We all want to have the best and that goes for the fans, who want to see good football and success.

“I think Neymar really wants to come back. He’s sorry about what he did and last year he tried hard to come back. I think that [apologising] would be the first step he would take to try to make it happen.”

‘An honour to play with him’

“For me, he’s the best player in the world. The best player that I’ve ever seen play,” Neymar said in 2019. “We made a magnificent duo. It was a pleasure for me, an honour to play with him. And, on top of that, he is my friend.”

‘I want to play with Messi again’

“What I want most of all is to play with Messi again, to be able to enjoy him once again on the pitch,” Neymar told ESPN in December 2020.

“He can play in my place, I have no problem with that! But I want to play with him next year, for sure. We have to do it next season.”

‘A phenomenon’

“I have a group on WhatsApp where we are – Suarez, Neymar and me,” Messi told Fox Sports Argentina In June 2019.

“Neymar is a phenomenon and yes, we continue to talk. The name of the group has something to do with South America … ‘The Three Sudacas’ or something like that.”

‘My idol’

“I played with Messi, who is, for me, one of the greatest footballers of all time, and he is my idol in football,” Neymar told the Players’ Tribune in 2018. “With Messi, I learned every day, whether during practice, or playing with him, or just watching him play.”

‘I cheered for him’

“Messi is, as I’ve always said, the best player I’ve ever seen play and he’s a great friend, but now we’re in a final, we’re rivals,” Neymar said ahead of the 2021 Copa America final between Argentina and Brazil.

“I want to win and I really want to win this title, which would be my first Copa America. Messi has been looking for his first title with the national team for many years, and every time we [Brazil] are not present at the tournament, I cheered for him. That’s what I’ve been cheering for in the 2014 World Cup final, when he faced Germany.”

‘Extremely tough’

“Brazil with Neymar are going to be extremely tough,” Messi said before the final. “We know their potential, what Ney can do individually.”

Watch: Lionel Messi consoles Neymar after Argentina win Copa final

‘My friend and brother’

“Losing hurts me and it’s something I still haven’t learned to live with,” Neymar wrote on Instagram after Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Argentina.

“Yesterday, when I lost, I went to give a hug to the greatest and best I have ever seen play in football history, my friend and brother Messi. I was sad and I joked to him ‘you son of a bitch, you’ve beaten me!’

“I’m very sad to have lost, but this guy is awesome! I have great respect for what he has done for football and especially for me. I hate to lose! But enjoy your title. Football was waiting for you for that moment! Congratulations brother.”

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