Former Barcelona star Rivaldo believes the club need to bring Neymar back in order to challenge for the Champions League after a second straight season in which La Blaugrana crashed out of the competition in embarrassing fashion.
In both of the two seasons since Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million transfer, Barcelona have blown a three-goal lead in the second leg of a knockout tie to exit Europe’s premier club competition.
Last season, Barcelona won the first leg of their quarter-final against Roma 4-1 at home, only to lose 3-0 away to bow out on away goals. And if that was humiliating, the manner in which they went out this season was even worse. Having beaten Liverpool 3-0 at home in the semi-final, they lost 4-0 in the away leg, conceding three second-half goals at Anfield.
The over-dependency on Lionel Messi has been cited as one key reason for Barcelona’s failures, a problem that has been brought into greater focus since the departure of Neymar, who was the star of one of the most famous results in Barca history, when they beat PSG 6-1 in the second leg of the 2016/17 Round of 16 to overturn a 4-0 deficit, and won the Champions League with the club in 2014/15.
That remains the last time they won the competition, and as success at home has become easier to come by – Barcelona have won La Liga in eight of the last 11 seasons – European glory has become a greater priority.
Rivaldo, who played for Barcelona from 1997 to 2002 but won the only Champions League title of his career in the season after he left the club, helping AC Milan to the trophy in 2002/03, says bringing back his fellow Brazilian would get the Catalan club out of their European rut.
Neymar “would be a great recruitment” for Barca “for everything that happened in this season’s finale,” the 2002 World Cup winner said on Instagram.
“He is, in my humble opinion, the player who Barcelona lack to be champions again in the Champions League. He has personality and a lot of quality to win back all the fans of Barcelona and also to be the best in the world.”