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Barcelona need Neymar back to make the difference when Messi is not there - Rivaldo

22:12 EAT 07/02/2020
Neymar PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2019-20
A former Camp Nou favourite would love to see the Brazilian return to the club in order to ease some of the pressure on a talismanic star's shoulders

Rivaldo has urged Barcelona to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint Germain in the summer transfer window.

Barca have endured a frustrating 2019-20 campaign to date, slipping three points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga title race while also exiting the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage.

Quique Setien's side dropped out of the latter competition after a 1-0 defeat away at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night, which compounded a difficult week at the club on and off the field.

Messi publicly criticised Barca sporting director Eric Abidal for accusing the squad of downing tools towards the end of Ernesto Valverde's reign at the club, leading to question marks over the Argentine's future at Camp Nou.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner also said he wasn't sure that Barca did "everything they could" to bring Neymar back from PSG last summer, with the two clubs ultimately unable to reach a final agreement after months of reported negotiations.

Rivaldo thinks a fellow Brazilian, who joined PSG for a world-record €222 million (£187m/$241m) fee in 2017, would be the ideal signing to take some of the pressure off Barca's number 10.

"Barcelona need to find a player who makes the difference when Messi isn't there or it's not his night, as happened at San Mames," the ex-Blaugrana striker told Betfair. "The club should look for a player to accompany him and replace him when necessary and, in my opinion, Neymar is that player.

"Barca should perhaps continue considering signing him next summer. The club isn't responsible for Neymar leaving a couple of years ago.

"It's been a while since then and perhaps it's time for negotiations that allow him to return and spend the best years of his career at Camp Nou."

Messi has contributed 14 goals and eight assists to Barca's La Liga cause this season, while also finding the net on five occasions in cup competitions.

Setien has only the 32-year-old and Antoine Griezmann to call upon upfront at the moment, with Luis Suarez not expected to return to action until May after undergoing surgery on a knee injury last month.

Ousmane Dembele has also seen his spell on the sidelines extended after a persistent hamstring issue flared up again upon his return to training earlier this week.

The Blaugrana must now look ahead to a meeting with Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarin on Sunday, which comes six days before Getafe arrive at Camp Nou.