Former Barcelona and Brazil star Rivaldo has backed Neymar to return to the Camp Nou but maintained that the Paris Saint-Germain forward must apologise first.
Neymar was criticised by Barcelona fans due to the manner in which he left for the French club. But Rivaldo is of the opinion that this should not hinder a potential return.
However, he did add that the forward must apologise and vow to be different (regarding his attitude).
“It’s a difficult decision,” Rivaldo told Goal at Camp Nou. “It’s difficult because of the way Neymar left. I think a lot of the fans are angry with everything that happened, but football is how it is, football is good, and Neymar is a great player who has personality.
“So if he comes here of course there will be times when he is criticised by some fans, but in the games, the training sessions, Neymar will still be the same Neymar, and it could be something special for Barcelona.
He adds: “He should say sorry. Officially, yes. Say sorry, say he was wrong, say that this is his home, that he is going to be the difference.
“I think that all the fans… many will understand, they’ll see him on the pitch in the league, the Champions League, doing things well, and the fans will forgive him easily.
“If it’s like it was when he was here playing football before together with Messi and Suarez, it was great for the club. If they win the Champions League, I don’t think it will be a problem for the fans.”
PSG are yet to sanction the sale of their star striker, who they paid a world record €222 million to sign from Barca only two years ago.
But Neymar is reportedly eager to return to Spain and Barcelona are prepared to take him back, with Spanish sports newspaper Diario Sport claiming a five-year contract has been agreed.
The newspaper says the terms include Neymar reducing his salary from around €36 million at PSG to the €24 million he received at Barca in 2017, while also dropping his 26-million euro court case against the Catalan club.
Neymar claims he was due the amount before leaving as a loyalty bonus.
The 27-year-old had spent four years at Camp Nou, winning the Champions League in 2015 and two La Liga titles. He had formed a brilliant attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Any return for Neymar would likely require Barca to raise funds through sales. Antoine Griezmann is expected to join from Atletico Madrid for €120 million while Frenkie de Jong has already signed for €75 million from Ajax.
The former Liverpool midfielder moved to the Nou Camp in January 2018 and though he started well, with eight goals in 18 league appearances in the remainder of that season, his form has tailed off since.
That has led to transfer speculation, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris St Germain among the clubs linked with a move.
Coutinho, who is on international duty with Brazil at the Copa America, said in quotes that appeared in AS: “I have a contract with Barcelona.
“It was always my will to succeed in this club, but now I am totally concentrated here (with Brazil).
“Many things that come out in the media are simply not true but as for my future we do not know what is going to happen, that is the truth.”
Coutinho made 34 appearances but only 22 starts, scoring five goals, as Barca won La Liga last season – though he fared slightly better with three Champions League goals and three in the Copa del Rey.
“Honestly, it wasn’t a good season. It didn’t produce what I wanted, it didn’t go as I hoped,” he added.
“But I hope it serves me as an example, as a lesson so that I want more, concentrate even more to be able to succeed.
“Whether a good or bad season it doesn’t change anything. The desire to win is always the same, or maybe even more so.”
A switch to PSG could see Coutinho move in the opposite direction to international team-mate Neymar, who has been linked with a return to Barca.
Coutinho recently described Neymar as “a player of another dimension”, and added on Tuesday: “The arrival of big names is always good for a squad that wants to win.”
Provided by Press Association Sport