‘Neymar is the only player who can replace Messi’ – Rivaldo wants fellow Brazilian back at Barcelona
Lionel Messi “won’t last forever” at Barcelona, says Rivaldo, with Neymar considered to be the only player capable of filling a void at Camp Nou that the departure of an all-time great will create.
Rivaldo considers his fellow countryman to have been “wrong” to leave in the first place, with questions still being asked of a why a record-breaking 2017 switch to Paris Saint-Germain was made.
It could be that Neymar gets the chance to retrace his steps in an upcoming transfer window, with Barcelona retaining interest in a familiar face.
Such a move would make sense for all concerned, according to Rivaldo, with the Blaugrana needing another talismanic figure on their books for when Messi passes on the baton – with retirement talk already beginning to surface.
The World Cup winner, who spent five memorable years with Barca in his playing days, said in The Mirror: "Messi won’t last forever. One day his final match will arrive and he will leave football.
"Now he is making the difference, scoring goals… but you have to have another player to play his actual role.
"Just one player can be the substitute of Messi at Barcelona and that player is Neymar.
"He was wrong leaving Barcelona, but, if he returns, he will be able to make the difference as Messi is doing now."
The reigning La Liga champions will be looking to their talismanic skipper for inspiration once again on Wednesday when they take in a Clasico clash with arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Only goal difference separates two old adversaries at the top of the table after 16 games, with both teams hoping to see somebody step up and become a hero at Camp Nou.
Rivaldo added on the impact Messi could make: "It's difficult to stop him, but I’m sure Real Madrid will try their best, because if not, he will score goals.
"A Clasico is a different match, but Messi is always calm in these matches. He's always looking for a goal.
"I do really think both teams are playing well and they are both in good condition to play this match. As I always say, there are no favourites."