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Lionel Messi 'driving Barcelona's Neymar pursuit'

Messi 'driving Barca's Neymar pursuit'
© Reuters
Lionel Messi is allegedly 'driving' Barcelona's pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain attacker Neymar.

Lionel Messi is allegedly one of the main factors behind Barcelona's pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

Despite having only left the Catalan giants two years ago, Neymar is said to be keen on a return to Camp Nou, with Barcelona known to be keen on the Brazilian's signature.

A deal remains in doubt because of Neymar's asking price, but Spanish football expert Graham Hunter has claimed that Messi is encouraging Barcelona to maintain their interest in the 27-year-old.

Hunter told Sky Sports' Transfer Talk podcast: "Messi is a central player in all of this. Messi is not a stroppy player - people have portrayed him as such falsely. But when he sneezes, Barcelona catches a cold. [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, the president, has said before he leaves - and he must quit the club in 2021 at the latest - he wants to leave Messi renewed once more.

"Whether Messi is saying 'get me Neymar' or whether he's whispering 'before we sit down to negotiate, I want the front line reinforced with Neymar', the fact is: Messi wants Neymar back.

"He, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar - even though they're different characters - are very friendly. Messi found a partner that understood him technically, who served him and who created masses of space. The last time Barcelona won the treble, they had that 'MSN' up front.

"It's clear Messi believes his route back to the Champions League isn't just Neymar specifically, but more people supplying goals around him. Messi is saying 'if you want me to sign a new contract, first renew Neymar'."

Barcelona are reportedly prepared to offer two players plus £90m for Neymar.

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Ousmane Dembele in action for Barcelona on September 18, 2018
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