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Former Barcelona Player Edmilson: Neymar Can 'Take the Place' of Lionel Messi

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2019

SHENZHEN, CHINA - AUGUST 02:  Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain looks during the training session ahead of the French Trophy of Champions football match between Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain at Shenzhen Universiadg Sports Center stadium on August 2, 2019 in Shenzhen, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Former Barcelona and Brazil player Edmilson believes Neymar could inherit Lionel Messi's mantle at the Camp Nou if he returns to the club from Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have been linked with a move for their former player this summer:

Goal @goal

BREAKING: Barcelona are preparing to begin talks with PSG for Neymar, and are expected to launch an official offer in the next few days 👀 https://t.co/U0l29OR7fp

Per Goal's Benjamin Quarez on Saturday, Edmilson said:

"Barca will be thinking about Messi's retirement. He still has a few years left in him, but in three, four or five years, I think Neymar could very well take the place of Messi.

"Neymar is a great player, but he has to have a good mindset to play his football.

"He has had two average seasons combined with injuries and did not have a great World Cup. 

"PSG did win the league but ultimately these are not Neymar's best years."

Although Neymar has returned an incredible 51 goals and 29 assists from his 58 PSG appearances, the club would have hoped for him to have more of an impact after his world-record €222 million arrival from Barca in 2017.

Injuries in both campaigns have seen him miss 34 matches across the two seasons, while minor issues have resulted in a further 13 absences, per Transfermarkt.

Because of his injuries, he has featured in just one UEFA Champions League knockout game for PSG, and the team has been eliminated in the competition's round of 16 in both his seasons in Paris.

The Selecao star was exceptional at Barcelona, where he scored 105 goals and assisted 76 in 185 appearances. He also won the Champions League in 2015.

Football journalist Simon Edwards believes Neymar was at his best at the Camp Nou:

Simon Edwards @SimonEdwardsSAF

Neymar's value to Barcelona is higher than it would be to any other club He has shown at Barcelona that he can get his head down and do his job As good as he is, he rarely does that for Brazil and almost never for PSG Barcelona can trust him but I don't think most teams should

Earlier in the summer, sports writer Andy West suggested Barca should attempt to re-sign him:

Andy West @andywest01

So should Barça sign him? Commercially, yes without any doubt. He is a money (and other things) magnet. Playing-wise? (Yup way more important). You know what...yes. They need a world class player on the left wing. He is a world class player on the left wing. Do it Barto.

Prior to leaving the club, he was the obvious heir to Messi's throne. The Argentinian is 32, five years Neymar's senior, and while he's showing little sign of slowing down, age will eventually catch up with even him.

Philippe Coutinho has failed to impress at Barca since he joined from Liverpool, while the jury is perhaps still out on whether Ousmane Dembele can become a star at the club, despite his obvious potential.

Given Barca have already signed Antoine Griezmann this summer, landing Neymar would likely require one or both of Coutinho and Dembele to be offloaded, though.