Messi and Neymar reunited? Barca candidate Laporta says PSG star's desire is 'normal'

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Barcelona have been put in an awkward place by Neymar's revelation that he wants to play with Lionel Messi next season, with presidential candidate Joan Laporta unsurprised by the Brazilian's comments.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, who left Barcelona when his buy-out clause of €222million was met three years ago, made his stunning comments after scoring twice at Manchester United on Wednesday.

He told ESPN: "What I want most is to play with Messi again. I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants! Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

Barcelona's finances, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are such that launching a big-money bid to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou appears out of the question.

Messi's contract is due to expire at the end of the season, and after being refused permission to leave just a few months ago, there are concerns the Argentinian will again seek to find a new home.

PSG could become an option, should Messi be as keen to reunite with Neymar as the Brazilian is to be reacquainted with his former Barca team-mate.

Candidates for the presidency are unlikely to dismiss out of hand the prospect of Neymar returning to Barcelona, given that making such a statement might prove unpopular, while they are also sure to handle carefully the hot topic that is Messi's future.

Laporta, a former Barca president seeking a return to office, suggested Neymar's remarks were nothing out of the ordinary.

"It is normal for him to say it, they are friends and have an established understanding between them. This relationship is normal," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"I hope that Leo can wait and listen to the proposal of the new Barcelona president."

The presidential election will take place on January 24 following the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu in October.

Laporta, who was at the helm of the club from 2003 to 2010 as Messi's career took off, is considered among the favourites to succeed Bartomeu.

He hopes Messi commits to ending his career with Barcelona, saying: "We have contact with Leo, I know he appreciates me, we respect each other, but we have not talked about the renewal.

"Messi guarantees you to aspire to be able to win everything. I want him to stay at Barca."

Laporta said he did not want to "destabilise" Ronald Koeman's team by talking about specific players that could come to the club, should he be elected.

But he did say: "I have a good relationship with several of the big agents in the football world. They have great players in their portfolio.

"If I am the president of Barca, I am sure that we will return the joy and give good players the chance of imagining they can play for Barca. The good guys will want to come and play here."