Messi and Neymar fuel transfer rumours

Carlo Garganese

Lionel Messi and Neymar’s post-Copa America final bromance has sparked new talk of a reunion at PSG next season.

Messi’s Argentina defeated Neymar’s Brazil 1-0 in the 2021 Copa America final at the Maracana on Saturday, with Angel Di Maria scoring a brilliant winner.

This earned Messi a long-awaited first major title for his country, 16 years after making his Albiceleste debut.

And in an emotional scene at the end of the game, Neymar walked over to Messi to embrace him and hug him as the Argentina players celebrated.

After the game, Messi and Neymar were also spotted in a long conversation with the Brazilian’s PSG team-mate Leandro Paredes.

These incidents – along with Neymar subsequently liking an image of Messi with the Copa America trophy on Instagram – have further fuelled rumours of a club reunion next season.

Will Messi play for Barcelona next season?

Out of contract since 30 June, Messi is presently a free agent - bringing an end to 21 straight years of collaboration between the Argentine and Barcelona.

While the club have been bullish for several months that Messi will re-sign for them, there have been setbacks in recent weeks.

Lionel Messi lifts 2021 Copa America

Lionel Messi lifts 2021 Copa America

La Liga have insisted that Barcelona need to slash their wage budget to a level that is simply incompatible in keeping with Messi’s previous salary of more than €100 million per season.

“Whenever everything is not solved, you have to be worried but I’ve got full confidence in our president to fix the issue,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman explained earlier this week.

“He’s very important for the club but also La Liga as he remains the best player in the world. We all have to make an effort for him to stay with us.”

Will Messi join PSG next season?

PSG and Man City have been closely following Messi’s movements since last summer, when a fallout with the previous Barcelona board opened the door to a move away.

And Neymar and Messi’s bromance after the Copa America final has naturally only intensified talk that the Argentine could reunite with his close friend in Paris.

Lionel Messi and Neymar, 2021 Copa America final

Lionel Messi and Neymar, 2021 Copa America final

The pair spent four glorious years together at Camp Nou – memorably winning the treble in 2015 – before Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in a controversial, world record transfer in 2017.

PSG have splashed the cash this summer, signing the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Gini Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos, while Gigi Donnarumma will soon complete a Bosman transfer too.

The signing of Messi would be the icing on the cake for the Parisians.