Guardiola queries wisdom of Neymar's rumoured Barcelona return

Pep Guardiola doubts whether Neymar would prove as effective in a second stint at Barcelona as in his first four seasons at the club.

LaLiga champions Barca are reportedly trying to engineer a Camp Nou reunion with the player they begrudgingly lost to Paris Saint-Germain two years ago.

Brazil star Neymar is believed to want the move to go ahead and rumours of his return have gained traction in recent weeks.

The forward won LaLiga twice and the Champions League once while scoring freely in Spain, but ex-Barca boss Guardiola is unsure whether those heights can be reached again.

"Neymar is an extraordinary player, but I don't know," the Manchester City manager told Catalan newspaper Ara.

"It's the same as if I came back. Would it be the same? I'm not the same person now and I'm not sure if Neymar is either.

"But he's very good, nobody doubts that."

Neymar arrived at Barca from Santos in 2013 - the year after Guardiola's departure - and went on to forge a devastating attacking partnership with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Now the club's captain, talisman Messi is reportedly keen to rekindle that feted front three as a potential remedy to the frustrating wait for another Champions League crown.

Guardiola thinks his former employers already boast the talent to keep the Argentina international satisfied with his surroundings, and defended incumbent coach Ernesto Valverde's failure to avert a European implosion against Liverpool.

"I think they are there, the right players. They have always been there," he said.

"I recently said that the two toughest rivals I have encountered in my career are Liverpool this year and Luis Enrique's Barca. 

"The Champions League is very demanding... the defensive involvement in Europe is very large. 

"That is one of the reasons I played Leo through the middle. I didn't want Leo to experience the physical wear and tear, so he could express his talent in the last 20 meters of the pitch.

"But at the Camp Nou against Liverpool he ran like a beast. If they had reached the Champions League final, they would have won."

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