Barcelona president Joan Laporta claims Neymar was desparate to return to Camp Nou this summer, prior to his reunion with Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain.
Neymar, 29, left the Catalan club for PSG in a world-record £198million transfer in 2017 after four trophy-laden seasons playing alongside Messi in attack.
The Brazilian superstar remained close friends with the Argentine after his departure and last year he declared: “What I want most of all is to play with Messi again”.
Neymar even made contact with Barca chiefs in order to join forces with Messi – before the pair were eventually reunited in the French capital.
“We tried to sign Neymar,” Laporta told Catalan outlet TV3 . “At that moment [after he was elected in March], it seemed like an interesting signing. He got in contact. He was crazy about coming.
“We interpreted fair play in another way at the time. If we had known all the rules [in La Liga], we would not have made that offer.”
Neymar’s dream of playing alongside Messi again became reality as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner signed a two-year contract with PSG in August.
The 34-year-old made his debut for the club in the 2-0 victory at Reims in Ligue 1 before the international break, replacing Neymar on 66 minutes.
The duo then travelled to South America, where they were set to face off in Brazil and Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
But the fixture descended into chaos and was suspended after Brazilian health officials entered the pitch due to an alleged breach of coronavirus regulations by four Premier League players representing Argentina.
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The two giant footballing nations each have one more World Cup qualifier before the end of the international break, with Brazil hosting Peru and Argentina welcoming Bolivia to Buenos Aires.
It remains to be seen if Messi and Neymar will return to PSG in time to feature in their clash with Clermont Foot on Saturday, which comes four days before they travel to Club Brugge to kick off their Champions League group-stage campaign.
Messi is just as delighted as Neymar to be playing alongside each other once again and hailed his new teammates upon his arrival at Le Parc des Princes.
“I’m eager to get playing and I’m going to be doing it alongside some of the best players in the world,” said Messi.
“It’s going to be a marvellous experience every day. I hope I can continue to win titles. I have the same hunger as when I was younger.”