Xavi has said that Barcelona should focus their energies this summer on attracting Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain rather than trying to add Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Sadio Mane to their ranks.
The Barcelona midfield great, who is presently head coach of Al Sadd, wants to see the Brazil star back in the Blaugrana, three years after he left Camp Nou to join PSG in a world-record €222 million (£200m/$258m) deal.
Although Neymar has failed, thus far, in his question to win the Ballon d’Or or to lead the Parisian side to the Champions League – though they remain active in the 2019-20 edition after beating Dortmund in the last 16 – Xavi still sees the 28-year-old, who scored 13 goals and assisted six more in the aborted Ligue 1 campaign, as their ideal addition.
“Football-wise, he is among the three or five best in the world,” he said in quotes carried by Metro. “I hope that he returns to Barcelona. He was his teammate. He would add a lot. A positive character. It would be an extraordinary signing to become a difference-maker.”
Meanwhile, he does not think that Arsenal’s Aubameyang or Liverpool’s Mane would be as effective playing for Barcelona as they have not shown the same aptitude in terms of being able to break down packed defences, the type of which the Catalans are asked to dismantle on a regular basis.
“Mane and Aubemayang can kill you in open space, but Barcelona need players who know how to move in small spaces,” he explained. “I am thinking about player who would adapt to Barcelona and it’s not easy to find one. Samuel Eto’o was perfect as is Luis Suarez right now.”
Neymar, meanwhile, spent four seasons at Barca from 2013-2017 and proved a prolific player alongside Lionel Messi and Suarez, scoring 105 goals in 186 outings. Since moving to PSG, he has struggled with successive injury problems but has netted 69 times in 80 matches since switching to France.
Although he is only 28, he has already turned out 101 times for Brazil, putting him joint-fifth in the all-time ranking, and contributing 61 goals, putting him behind only Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77) in that regard.