When Neymar departed Barcelona for Paris St. Germain last summer, it was widely perceived that the position held by Lionel Messi at the club was a determining factor.
Impeding the Brazilian's opportunity to claim his own Ballon D'Or triumph, being the unquestionable star in Paris appeared more palatable than playing second-fiddle in Barcelona.
With his future at PSG looking increasingly shaky, Neymar has been spending his time recuperating from an injury back at home in Brazil.
Appearing on a popular television show there, he spoke openly about his relationship with the Argentine Messi; "I have had a huge friendship with Messi."
It appears to be a friendship that has sustained Neymar's departure from Barcelona. Opening up about his initial moments of self-doubt and wariness in his new surroundings, the young man who had made such an impression at Santos in Brazil required help coming out of his shell.
Messi duly obliged:
I remember a game with Barcelona when I was side, I was nearly crying because things weren’t coming off for me.
It was halftime and Messi came up to me and told me that I only had to be the same player I had always been, to be myself.
‘You have yo be yourself,’ he told me. ‘You can’t be intimidated to be playing alongside me or [Andres] Iniesta,’ he insisted.’
Citing Messi's humility in spite of his many achievements as "something he loved" about him, Neymar freely admits that Messi "helped him a lot professional, of course, but also personally."
All the more strange perhaps that Neymar would then decide to depart Barcelona and Messi, his stint at PSG has hitherto failed to live up to expectations; a Champions League round-of-16 knockout to Real Madrid failing to take the club to the heights they wish to scale.
With many speculating that Neymar will be afforded even greater autonomy within the team's set-up going forward, his thoughts seem squarely locked on the upcoming World Cup for the time being.