In the end, despite many rumoured different deals with Barcelona and Real Madrid, the Brazilian stayed with PSG in the French capital.
And Messi has revealed he thinks Barca could have done more to sign Neymar.
Speaking to REMSPORT, he said: “Honestly, I don’t know if Barcelona did everything possible to ensure his return. However, it is certainly true that negotiating with PSG isn’t easy.
“I don’t know what happened with the board. I know that I spoke with Ney and he told me how things were going. He was desperate to come back. I don’t know if the club really tried or not. From what I do know, Neymar was hoping it would happen.”
There was much speculation about how any deal for the former Santos forward might be structured with a number of players linked in a swap deal.
Towards the end of the transfer window there was also the suggestion of a loan deal this season with obligation to buy next year, much like the deal that saw Kylian Mbappe move to PSG.
Speaking about having the 27-year-old back in the team Messi is under no doubt he would have been a good signing.
“I would have loved to have Neymar back. I understand those people who are against his return and it’s understandable for what happened with ‘Ney’ and the way that he left,” he said.
“But thinking about it on a sporting level, I personally think Neymar is one of the best players in the world and having him in our squad would increase our chances of achieving our objectives.”
Messi and Neymar back together again would be frightening for any opposition. Image: PA Images Messi and Neymar back together again would be frightening for any opposition. Asked if he was upset his former team-mate didn’t return to Barca the five time Ballon d’Or winner added that he believes the squad is good enough to reach their goals without Neymar.
Messi said: “No, I would have liked for him to return but I think we have a spectacular squad and can achieve everything without him. So no, I’m not disappointed. I would have liked to play alongside him again, that’s all.”
Is a return to Barcelona inevitable for Neymar or will he stay with PSG long term?