Messi, neymar and mbappé celebrating christmas

Neymar says that Lionel Messi is a good friend at Barcelona, both on and off the pitch, but it wasn"t always like that.

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Barcelona are flying now and the Messi-Neymar axis is the key combination in manager Luis Enrique"s side. The club is second in the La Liga table và a mere point behind leaders Real Madrid.

Where it used khổng lồ be a Xavi Hernandez-Dani Alves-Messi triple act that unlocked teams, now the power nguồn all lies in Barcelona"s front line.

Luis Suarez is also an important cog, but if you had khổng lồ pick one links in Barcelona"s side which destabilises opponents & creates havoc, it"s the Argentine feeding the Brazilian.

After beating Levante 5-0, Neymar said on Canal+ (h/t, "For me it is an honour to play alongside Messi, Luis Suarez and Pedro. Messi is the best friend I have, both at Barca & away from the football pitch."

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But think back to the summer of Neymar"s arrival, & everything was very different.

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Neymar arrived under the presidency of Sandro Rosell, a man with whom Messi did not get along.

Per Sport"s Joaquim Piera, Messi looked upon his new team-mate with a distinct air of suspicion và even hostility:

Leo, who is not exactly outgoing, received his new strike partner with a certain coldness & distance. He did not see sincerity & sympathy in the Brazilian offering his friendship. In the environment of the "cold war" that Messi has been having with the Barcelona board, he saw Neymar as having arrived to move him from the throne.

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However, thanks lớn Pepe Costa và his son Alvaro Costa, the relationship between the two forwards thawed.

Pepe is a close confidant of Messi, a man in the Barcelona dressing room whom he can trust.

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He has been at Barcelona since 2003, starting off in the player services department.

Sport"s Javier Miguel reported how earlier this season Enrique wanted Costa to leave Barcelona, but president Josep Maria Bartomeu intervened:

Having already seen two of his best friends, Cesc Fabregas and Jose Manuel Pinto leave the club, he learned that Luis Enrique had asked technical team member Pepe Costa khổng lồ leave the first team squad. Costa is a close friend of Messi và the Argentine was stunned when he heard what was happening. There were days of uncertainty in which he wondered what to vày about Costa. Bartomeu was surprised at the discomfort caused by firing kitman Txema Corbella earlier on, so he stopped the removal of Costa khổng lồ try và relieve tension.

Alvaro, meanwhile, who works for Barcelona sponsors Nike, was encouraged to get close khổng lồ Neymar & help him adapt lớn life in his new city.

According lớn Piera"s story, Neymar welcomed him with open arms and treats him lượt thích family now.

Given that Pepe is Alvaro"s father, it was only a matter of time before Messi stopped seeing Neymar as a threat, instead of a companion:

Eventually Messi saw that Neymar was here lớn help him, that they were perfect matches for each other, và that the friendship was sincere. This season the duo has exploded. The best for Barcelona fans is lớn see them both laughing and celebrating together, covering their mouths lớn avoid being overheard by prying cameras. Then later each of them will go back to their respective Costa and can discuss whatever they want, safe in the knowledge that neither father nor son will divulge any of their concerns or secrets.