KEY POINTS

  • Ex-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell urged his former club to re-sign Neymar
  • Rosell said only Neymar can replace Lionel Messi in Barcelona
  • Former Barca player Jofre Mateu also thinks Neymar can take Messi's place

Controversial former Barcelona president Sandro Rosella has urged the Catalans to re-sign Neymar as the businessman believes he is the only player who can replace Lionel Messi.

Real Madrid isn’t the only problem Barcelona is bound to face in the near future. Spanish radio network Cadena Ser broke the news this week that Barca captain Messi has halted contract renewal negotiations and may be planning to leave the club next year. Amid growing talks of Messi leaving, former Barca executive Rosell is now urging the team to re-sign Neymar.

It was Rosell who brought Neymar to Barcelona in the summer of 2013 for a reported fee of €57 million ($64.1 million). Back then, the Brazilian sensation was touted as the rightful successor of Messi. It didn’t take long for Neymar to fit in and establish himself as a star in the team.

And now that Barca is dealing with a series of setbacks, Rosell was asked by Sport (via Sportskeeda) to name a player he believes can lead his former team in the event Messi decides to leave. According to the ex-Barcelona boss, no one is worthy of taking over from Messi except Neymar.

“Neymar is the only player, along with Messi, that really makes the difference. He has a great character on the pitch,” Rosell explained.

Rosell is also aware of the controversies surrounding Neymar’s behavior outside the sport. However, he has already formulated a workaround for that.

"I would draw up two contracts for him: one sporting and another based on behavior,” he added.

Neymar, Lionel Messi Neymar and Lionel Messi remain fitness doubts for Barcelona ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup final. Photo: Getty Images

Aside from Rosell, former Barcelona player Jofre Mateu also thinks Neymar can fill Messi’s shoes in Barcelona. The 40-year-old asserted that there’s no doubt Neymar is one of the best in the world and could take over Messi’s role when the latter is no longer around.

“As a player, there is probably no discussion that he is one of the best in the world. When Messi isn't there, then probably he can take his place,” Mateu said of Neymar.

In the 2014/15 season, Neymar had his best run with Barcelona. Together with Messi and Luis Suarez, they formed “MSN,” which was arguably the most successful trio in the history of Barcelona

Neymar’s succeeding season with Barca was not as victorious as the previous one. However, the trio continued to dominate European football and scored a total of 131 goals combined. And while Barcelona missed out on the Champions League, it still managed to secure a domestic double with the help of the Brazilian.