Messi admits he expected Neymar to join Real Madrid

The pair have not faced each other since Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus last summer and Messi has revealed he wanted his old rival to stay in Spain.

Of over 600 goals, he was able to pick one, saying that "my best goal was the one in (against Manchester United) in Rome with my head in the Champions League final".

In 2016 the Argentina worldwide was handed a prison sentence of 21 months and ordered to pay a fine of €2 million, but never spent a day behind bars after paying a €250,000 fine.

Despite avoiding jail time, the situation left Messi upset, angry and looking for a way out of Spain.

When questioned about his future, Messi he added: "Today my idea and that of my family is to end here".

"Of course anything can happen but in principle, the idea is to stay here".

The thought of Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi walking away from the club may seem nonsensical to many football fans, but the Argentine ace said it very almost happened back in 2016.

Messi was keen to be reunited with Neymar last summer but Barcelona were unable to agree on a fee with PSG.

"I really thought Neymarwould go to Real Madrid if he didn't come here", Messi said in an interview with RAC1, the full version of which will be broadcast on Wednesday. I will do my best to try to change this situation in the next games. "He is unpredictable, different and having him in our team would have given us more options".

"The first year when we wanted to sign Griezmann, I said he was one of the best and that the best are always welcome", Messi said.

And Barcelona fans can rest easy knowing that, with his tax issues now a thing of the past, Messi said he wants to stay at the club for the rest of his playing days. "The club decided Valverde would continue and for me that was a joy, good for stability and he is a coach we support and love".

A 4-0 victory over Sevilla on Sunday saw Barcelona climb into second place in La Liga, two points behind leaders Madrid.

According to Alonso, Madrid started to adapt to Barcelona's tactics under Pep Guardiola and discovered the best way to contain Messi on the pitch.