Ahead of Manchester City’s semi-final clash against PSG, Pep Guardiola believes that Neymar staying at Barcelona would have seen the La Liga giants thrive in the Champions League. The Brazilian left the club in 2017 for Paris Saint-Germain but both clubs have struggled on the European stage since.
The talent and ability that Neymar has shown, even as a teenager, had many people in awe with a catalogue of clubs all keen on signing the young Brazilian from Santos. But Barcelona won that race and in Neymar, they believed they had the next great footballing superstar with the forward proving that statement more than once. However, after four successful years, the then 25-year-old opted to leave and signed for Paris Saint-Germain in a move that transformed football completely.
However, since then neither PSG nor Barcelona have had much success on the Champions League stage although the Parisians did reach their first final last season. This season, they’ve made the semi-finals again and face Manchester City and an in awe Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard revealed just how good he thinks Neymar is and admitted that the job the forward has is not easy. But he also believes that Barcelona could have become a force in the Champions League had Neymar stayed.
"I remember against Santos, I said this was the king of Santos and all the players were open mouthed: 'Oh my god, what a player.’ A joy to watch as a spectator, he has Brazil on his shoulders, the No. 10, it's not easy to wear,” Guardiola said, reported ESPN.
"I'm pretty sure if he'd stayed in Barca they'd have won two or three more Champions Leagues. With Neymar, [Lionel] Messi and [Luis] Suarez, the best three I've seen."
The Cityzens play in only their first Champions League semi-final under Guardiola and face the almighty Paris Saint-Germain with both sides looking for their first Champions League trophy. But given the quality that both sides possess, Guardiola added that PSG’s superstars have made it tough for him to sleep with him wondering how to stop them.
"Always I believe the quality of these players, they have too much. I tried to sleep well last night and that was when I was not thinking of them. Incredible top players, their quality. We are ready to try to stop them, defend as a team, play good football and try to score goals,” he added.