Neymar brought an end to his four-year stay at Camp Nou yesterday, penning a five-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain in a transfer that cost the French side €222m (£200m) in transfer fees alone.
Reports in the Spanish media had suggested that one of the 25-year-old’s motivations to leave the La Liga side was to step out of the shadow of Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or in five of the last eight years.
Asked if Messi had been a factor in his move, Neymar told reporters today: “No, quite on the contrary. One of my motivations to play for Barcelona was to play alongside Lionel Messi, he was my role model.
“There was no pressure at all there, only during the first week at Barcelona where I was nervous to train with my role models. But after that first week, I was relaxed and to play with the best is very easy because every player wants to play with the best in the world to win titles together.
“I want to thank Messi because he welcomed me so well and I learned so much from him in our four years together. But now I’m here at PSG and I want to help my teammates in the best way and win titles.”
Earlier this week Messi posted a farewell message to Neymar on social media, telling him: “It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you friend.”