Barcelona star Lionel Messi has 'made it clear' that he would prefer to see his former teammate Neymar return to Camp Nou over a move for Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann.
The news comes in the wake of opposition to a deal for the World Cup winner from members of the board at the club and in the dressing room, after Griezmann announced that he would be leaving Atletico at the end of the season.
The 28-year-old was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona last summer, with Messi saying at the time (quoted by the Evening Standard): “I don’t know if there is anything in it or not, but we are delighted if the best players come and Griezmann is one of those.”
However, it appears the Argentinian magician has had a change of heart this time around, saying "I won’t speak about Griezmann" in a pre-match press conference before the Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
According to the report, Messi has told the club's hierarchy that he would prefer to see PSG star Neymar return to the club, two years after the Brazilian made a shock move for Paris in a world record €222m transfer.
He was quoted in an interview with Fox Sports Argentina, saying: “I have a WhatsApp group with [Luis] Suarez, Neymar and me. Neymar is a phenomenon.
"We still talk. The group is called something South American… the three ’sudacas’, something like that…”
Neymar is believed to be interested in a return to his former side, where he teamed up with Messi and Suarez to form the deadly MSN attacking trio, but as there is no release clause in his current deal with the French giants, a deal would be difficult to thrash out.
To fund a move for either player, Barcelona would have to sell several players, with Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Malcom the most likely candidates to leave the club.
Griezmann, meanwhile, appears to have been left hanging as Barcelona cool their interest, with the latest reports linking him with a possible move to PSG or Manchester City.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo after France's 2-0 victory over Bolivia in a friendly match, Griezmann responded to questions on his future, saying: "When will my future be resolved? I do not know, it's a good question. Everything in its time."
The French forward still has two games to play with the national team before going on holiday, and Atletico Madrid will be eager for him to find a club as soon as possible. Griezmann's release clause is currently valued at €200m, but it will drop to just €120m after July 1.