Barcelona wanted Neymar to take pressure off Messi - Gudjohnsen

Neymar, Lionel MessiGetty

Eidur Gudjohnsen feels Neymar would have been a brilliant signing for Barcelona as his arrival would have taken some weight off Lionel Messi’s shoulders and given the Argentine more space to hurt teams. 

Barcelona desperately tried to re-sign the Paris Saint-Germain attacker over the summer, but ultimately failed to agree on a deal for the wantaway Brazilian. 

The signing of Neymar would have led to a remarkable summer for the Catalans after they previously already paid Atletico Madrid €120 million (£107.6m) for France superstar Antoine Griezmann to strengthen their attack. 

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Barcelona still have arguably one of the most feared forward lines in Europe, but Gudjohnsen would have welcomed the sight of Neymar lining up alongside Messi, Luis Suarez and the aforementioned Griezmann. 

"Messi is still the top player at the moment," Gudjohnsen told Goal. "If he has an injury, as we have seen at the start of the season, then Griezmann can be someone to step in. With Neymar, that might be more of that thinking, even though it didn’t happen. 

"I think Barcelona are looking to other players to take the pressure off Messi. How can we have other players around him to draw attention in a different direction. As soon as your attention goes off Messi, he pops up and scores you a few goals. 

"They went through a period where all the attention was on him and he was the man who had to do everything. When Suarez and Neymar came in, that took some of the attention off him and freed him up even more. 

"That was probably the best strike force of Barcelona or in modern-day football. It was lethal. I think Barcelona will always challenge anyway. They have Messi, Griezmann, [Ousmane] Dembele and Suarez. Good players like [Gerard] Pique at the back. 

Eidur Gudjohnsen quote GFXGetty Images

"They have great talent and as long as they keep them at a high level, they will be difficult to beat. Whether they can reach the heights of a few years back? It is difficult to say. There’s a lot of teams across Europe getting stronger but Barcelona are always a team to watch out for. 

"Not only the way they play, but when you have Messi in your team, you always stand a chance." 

Messi was only 18 when Gudjohnsen joined Barcelona in 2006, but he had already started to establish himself as a key player among the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco. 

Gudjohnsen witnessed Barcelona being built around Messi for the next decade from up close and he immediately realised something special was on the horizon upon walking into the dressing room at the Camp Nou. 

"Without a doubt, I knew it. Everyone in the dressing room knew it. Everyone around the club knew it. You could simply see that this guy was exceptional," Gudjohnsen added of Messi. "He has become better, better and better every year. 

"He is getting a little older so he might not be as quick as he was. He has become more clever and picks his moments. He might play a bit deeper on the pitch but look at his stats, it doesn’t affect him. It is almost a bad season when he scores 30+ goals. That is almost ridiculous 

"It is all about how you get the best out of him. You mould the team around him and make players realise that they have to do the dirty work for him. He will always allow your team to win a football match."