Neymar’s return to Barcelona is being driven by Lionel Messi - Graham Hunter

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Neymar is still very much a Paris Saint-Germain player as things stand, despite his desire to leave the Parc des Princes.

The Brazilian forward wants to return to Barcelona after two topsy-turvy years in Paris.

Barça have made two cash-plus-players deals to the French champions but both offers have been rejected. PSG would prefer cash.

Other clubs are also exploring the possibility of signing Neymar, including Juventus, whose sporting director Fabio Paratici recently had a meeting with the player’s father.

Real Madrid and Manchester United also have an interest in signing the world-class South American; however, he only has eyes for his former employers.

Spanish football expert Graham Hunter has told Sky Sports that Barça’s move to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou is being driven by Lionel Messi.

Hunter explains that Messi wants Neymar back in order to help the club win the Champions League again.

Barça have not won Europe’s premier club cup competition since 2015, when Neymar scored one of the goals in a 3-1 victory over Juventus in Berlin.

Juventus v FC Barcelona  - UEFA Champions League Final

Since then, Real Madrid have won the Champions League three times, bringing their tally to 13. Barça, on the other hand, have lifted the European Cup five times.

Messi, Hunter claims, has made it clear that he’ll sign a new contract if Neymar is brought back.

"Messi is a central player in all of this,” Hunter said. “Messi is not a stroppy player - people have portrayed him as such falsely. But when he sneezes, Barcelona catches a cold.

"[Josep Maria] Bartomeu, the president, has said before he leaves - and he must quit the club in 2021 at the latest - he wants to leave Messi renewed once more.

"Whether Messi is saying 'get me Neymar' or whether he's whispering 'before we sit down to negotiate, I want the front line reinforced with Neymar', the fact is: Messi wants Neymar back.

"He, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar - even though they're different characters - are very friendly. Messi found a partner that understood him technically, who served him and who created masses of space. The last time Barcelona won the treble, they had that 'MSN' up front.

"It's clear Messi believes his route back to the Champions League isn't just Neymar specifically, but more people supplying goals around him. Messi is saying 'if you want me to sign a new contract, first renew Neymar'."

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Fascinating stuff.

It’s no secret that Messi has an awful lot of power at Camp Nou - and deservedly so, for everything he’s done for the club over the past 15 years - and he knows what it takes to win the Champions League.

Barça have fallen short in the past few seasons and Messi, who turned 32 last month, is desperate for that to change.

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Adding Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann to their ranks will certainly boost their chances of lifting the European Cup this season, but Neymar’s return might just make the Catalan giants favourites.

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