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Edmilson backs Neymar to replace Lionel Messi at Barcelona

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Former Barcelona star Edmilson reckons Neymar can replace Lionel Messi one day as long as he’s got the right attitude.

Neymar’s attempts to force a shock return to Barcelona have been the biggest talking point of the summer transfer window. Apparently, he was never happy at Paris Saint-Germain and wants his French nightmare to end ASAP.

Whether or not that goes ahead, though, is another case. PSG allegedly want to recoup the world-record €222m they invested to sign the Brazilian in cash only.

Doubts have also been circulating on Neymar’s motives for re-joining the Blaugrana this summer. One of the main factors behind his decision to leave Camp Nou in the first place was to escape Messi’s shadow, which he felt hindered his prospects of Ballon d’Or glory.

With the Argentine superstar at 32, however, Barcelona are aware that time is running out for their captain’s playing career.

The club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently stated that the €120m signing of Antoine Griezmann is part of the planning process for the post-Messi era.

But Edmilson, who won the 2005/06 Champions League and two La Liga titles with Barcelona, believes Neymar could be a ready-made replacement for Messi.

“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,” the former Brazilian defender told Goal.

“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 the best years of Neymar.”

After joining Barcelona from boyhood club Santos in 2013 for €88m, the 27-year-old went on to become a key part of the team during his four-year stay.

Aside from managing 105 goals and 76 assists in only 186 games, Neymar helped Barcelona win eight trophies. These included two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League.

But Edmilson pointed out that his compatriot will have to focus at Camp Nou considering the strong competition.

“Barca have a host of great players and they will have to decide who plays if they want to bring him back. They have brought in Griezmann, [Ousmane] Dembele is still there and so is [Phillipe] Coutinho.

“There are many attacking players in the middle as well such as [Ivan] Rakitic, Arthur and [Sergio] Busquets.

“He started well at PSG, he was fine. He was well surrounded by his dad. But after that, I do not know what happened…

“I think Neymar has a place everywhere. The fans are happy when he’s playing well and scoring goals but the truth is that he is not always there.

“He remains a great player and we will need to see where he feels is best to continue to flourish because today Ney has lost a little bit of edge since Barca.”

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 31: Edmilson of Barcelona and competes during the match between FC Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna of La Liga at the Camp Nou stadium on March 31, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Bagu Blanco/Getty Images).