Guardiola insists Barca would have dominated Europe by keeping Neymar
Barcelona ‘would have won two or three Champions Leagues’ if Neymar didn’t leave for PSG, claims Pep Guardiola, as he recalls telling Lionel Messi and Co that the Brazilian was ‘the king of Santos’ at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup final
- Pep Guardiola insists Barcelona would’ve dominated Europe if they kept Neymar
- Barcelona won the Champions League with Neymar, Messi and Suarez in 2015
- However, two years later, Barca sold the winger to PSG in a record £198m deal
- Guardiola has also recalled how he told his Barca squad about Neymar in 2011
- He hailed Neymar as ‘the king of Santos’ when he faced him at Club World Cup
Pep Guardiola believes Barcelona would have won ‘two or three Champions League titles’ if they managed to keep hold of Neymar.
Barcelona signed a 21-year-old Neymar in 2013 from Santos for £49million, which saw him form ‘one of the best front-threes’ Guardiola has ever seen alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
It proved to be a brilliant bit of business for the Catalan giants after Neymar helped the club win two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Reys and a Champions League trophy in his four-year stint at the Nou Camp.
Pep Guardiola insists Barcelona would’ve won two or three Champions League titles this decade if they kept Neymar (right), Lionel Messi (middle) and Luis Suarez (left) together
Neymar then shocked the world in 2017 when he completed a record-breaking £198m move to PSG in order to escape Messi’s shadow and win the European crown without him.
Now into his fourth year in Paris, Neymar came agonisingly close to achieving his goal but came up short in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Ahead of their meeting on Wednesday, where Manchester City will be hoping to stop PSG from reaching a second successive final, Guardiola was full of praise for the Brazilian superstar while he also revealed a conversation he held with his Barcelona squad before meeting Neymar’s Santos in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
‘I said to them, “this is the king of Santos” and all the players were open mouthed, “oh my god what a player”. A joy to watch as a spectator,’ Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.
Guardiola (left) has been full of praise for Neymar ahead of their Champions League meeting
The Spaniard recalls telling his Barcelona players that Neymar was ‘the king of Santos’ in 2011
‘He has Brazil on his shoulders, the number 10 is not easy to wear. I’m pretty sure if he’d stayed in Barcelona they would have won two or three Champions Leagues with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, the best three I’ve seen.
‘He decided to go to Paris, nice city and nice club from the outside. What I want is for him to have stability, play in the regular way, but I’m a big admirer as he helps to make our football better and it’s a pleasure for me to play against them and him.’
Neymar has long been linked with a return to the Nou Camp to once again join forces with Lionel Messi, who is now entering the twilight of his career.
The 29-year-old’s current deal expires in the summer of 2022 and is yet to commit his future to the Parisian club.
Neymar has been desperate to win the Champions League since joining PSG in 2017
But, making a rare press conference appearance ahead of PSG’s Champions League semi-final, Neymar hinted he could commit to the club after all.
‘I have got time on my contract here at PSG. We want to do what is the best for everyone,’ he said.
‘I have already said that I am happy here and I feel much better than in the previous seasons.
‘Since I arrived here, the club has improved, the club if more respected.
‘When people talk about PSG now, they know it is among the four, five, six best teams from across all the leagues. Now PSG is getting the respect it deserves.
‘This year, we are going to do everything to get our hands on the trophy.
Guardiola insists Neymar could’ve dominated Europe as part of ‘the best front three’ he’s seen
‘When I joined PSG, I said our priority was always the Champions League and winning it and being amongst the best. We managed to reach the final last year for the first time in the club’s history.
‘Now, we are in the semi-finals. This means we have been improving and that is down to the people, the coaching staff, and I think we have everything it takes to be champions. We are on the right path.
‘I think everything is on track, we have to keep working hard and playing well in order to win the trophy that we want.’
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