“He was desperate to come back,” Messi told Spanish newspaper Sport. “I don’t know if the club really tried or not.”
The Brazil international was repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona during the transfer window, although it has been suggested that neither club was convinced that the other was committed to making a deal.
“I would have loved to have Neymar back,” said Barcelona captain Messi, 32. “I understand those people who are against his return and it’s understandable for what happened with ‘Ney’ and the way that he left.
“But thinking about it on a sporting level, I personally think Neymar is one of the best players in the world and having him in our squad would increase our chances of achieving our objectives.”
The Argentine forward joined Barcelona in 2001 and his current contract expires in June 2021.
“My idea is to stay here for as long as I’m capable of playing at the required level and my body allows it,” he added.
“This is my home. I don’t plan on moving to anywhere else as long as we keep competing and winning.”