Andres Iniesta says he would be annoyed if former teammate Neymar left Paris Saint-Germain for Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid.
Neymar quit Barca in the summer, joining Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee of €222 million, but his brief spell in France has generated just as many stories off the pitch as it has on it.
His relationship with teammate Edinson Cavani has been under scrutiny following an argument over penalty-taking duties, while he has frequently been linked with a move to Madrid.
Madrid president Florentino Perez, who tried to sign Neymar before he joined Barca in 2013, said the Brazil international would be more likely to win the Ballon d’Or if he moved to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Barca striker Luis Suarez said recently that Neymar has too much admiration for his ex-club to ever move to Madrid, but Iniesta pointed out that stranger things have happened in the past.
“Anything can happen in football,” the Barcelona captain told a news conference when asked if he could envisage Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo but with Neymar. “We’ve seen situations which seemed impossible and have then happened before.”
Questioned on how he would feel if Neymar did move to Madrid, after a long pause, Iniesta added: “I would be indifferent. Maybe it would annoy me a little bit because he’s a game-changer and he would strengthen a rival. But I’m not worried about it.”
Iniesta was also asked about Ronaldo’s comments that he is the best player in the history of football after winning his fifth Ballon d’Or last week.
The Spain international said Ronaldo features in the debate, but that each person will have their own opinion on who the best ever is, with his vote going to teammate Lionel Messi.
“Each person is free to their own opinions and feelings,” Iniesta said. “A player at [Ronaldo’s] level, who has won the Ballon d’Or five times, obviously he is among the best.
“From there, we all have our own preferences. Mine is clear. I’d go with my teammate, with Leo, for all that he’s represented and still represents.”
Iniesta has missed Barca’s last two games with a minor calf problem but said he is “optimistic” that he will be available for Sunday’s game against Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.