Friday 20 July 2018

Lionel Messi's last-ditch attempt to stop Neymar's transfer from Barcelona to PSG revealed

Some have suggested Neymar moved to PSG in order to step out from Lionel Messi's shadow. Getty Images
Some have suggested Neymar moved to PSG in order to step out from Lionel Messi's shadow. Getty Images

Evan Bartlett

Lionel Messi is said to have made one last-ditch attempt to persuade Neymar to ignore the lure of Paris Saint-Germain and stay at Barcelona.

Gerard Pique tried a simila tactic with his now infamous "se queda" ("he stays") tweet, but admitted last week that he knew even then the Brazilian would make his world record move to the French capital. 

"I don't feel tricked by Neymar," Pique said.

"The day I said 'he stays' I knew that he was going 100 per cent."

Not so for Neymar's two partners in the 'MSN' triumvirate. Messi and Luis Suarez held a secret meeting with the wantaway forward during Barca's pre-season tour to the US in a bid to make him stay, according to Sport.

The night before their game against Juventus in New Jersey last month, the three South Americans met in their hotel.

With reports suggesting that Neymar wanted to move to Paris in order to step out of Messi's shadow and become the world's best player, the Argentine made a promise to his young colleague.

"You want to be a Ballon d'Or winner? I will make you a Ballon d'Or winner," Messi is believed to have said.

As if to prove his point the following day, the Catalan paper reports Messi spent much of the game against Juve providing his understudy with as much of the ball as possible.

Neymar scored two goals that night but ultimately, in spite of Messi's promises and his actions on the pitch, the lure of the French capital and becoming the lone star proved too strong.

"Despite the generosity shown by the greatest, the Brazilian preferred the money from Qatar to accept the challenge of becoming a Ballon d'Or next to Leo Messi," Sport reports with more than a hint of bitterness.

"[Messi] offered him everything on the football pitch, but not even reaching that point made Neymar change his mind."

Pique, however, was more forgiving of his former colleague and praised his efforts in those final pre-season games.

"He hasn't disappointed me, there are several ways to leave, some go on strike and Ney fought for the shirt to the last second," Pique said.

"He's a unique player, with a special talent, one on one he's the best in the world.

"It will be difficult to find a replacement, rather than look for someone like him we have to make ourselves stronger, be a stronger and more competitive team.

"We can't look for Ney's replacement because he's not available on the market."

Independent News Service

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