Lionel Messi has admitted he feared Neymar would join Real Madrid this summer rather than return to Barcelona.
Neymar was linked with a move back to his former club Barcelona all summer – but there was also speculation that fierce La Liga rivals Real would try to hijack any move and sign the Brazilian themselves.
In the end, Neymar joined neither club, staying at Paris-Saint Germain after Barcelona and the French club were unable to agree a price.
But the transfer war for the £200million superstar is sure to resume once the transfer window opens again, with Neymar having made it clear he wanted to leave PSG.
Messi has admitted he feared Neymar would end up at Real Madrid this season, believing that his former teammate was so intent on leaving PSG he would choose Barca’s fierce rivals rather than stay in Paris.
And the Argentine ace says he thought Madrid president Florentino Perez would have something up his sleeve to tempt the 27-year-old away from Barcelona to their famous rivals.
“Honestly, I thought that Neymar would go to Madrid if he didn’t come here,” said Messi in an interview with RAC1, reported by Spanish publication Marca .
“He really wanted to leave Paris and had said so. And I thought Florentino and Real Madrid were going to do something to take it away.”
Griezmann only joined Barcelona in the summer, switching from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid for £108million, but there have been concerns over his partnership with Messi.
Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez formed a fearsome partnership during their time together between 2014-2017 and are widely regarded as one of the deadliest attacking trios of all time.