CHAMPIONS LEAGUE | BARCELONA-CELTIC
"Neymar is a bit immature but he will be a marvellous player”
"I think it was exaggerated in that instance. It is not a major criticism of the player. I think he is going to light up the football world over the next five to 10 years."
Neil Lennon has reiterated that Neymar was guilty of play acting in the last meeting between Celtic and Barcelona on 2 October, insisting he exaggerated a challenge from Scott Brown which lead to the midfielder being sent off.
The score was 0-0 when Brown was given his marching orders and later on Cesc Fàbregas won the game for the Catalans with a header.
The Celtic coach criticised Neymar after the game in Glasgow for his response and ahead of the return match at the Camp Nou he did not go back on his comments, although he recognised that the Brazilian player was “very talented”.
"I think he is very talented but I stand by what I said on the evening, I did think he made more of the contact than necessary,” said Lennon.
"‘He is a special player. It was the first time I saw Neymar play live and I was very impressed and I think he will be a wonderful addition to the Barcelona team.
"I wouldn't say he [Neymar] is doing it all the time at all; I think it was exaggerated in that instance. It is not a major criticism of the player. I think he is going to light up the football world over the next five to 10 years.
"If he keeps improving he will be a fantastic player. He is perhaps a bit immature like all young players. Young players at home also tend to exaggerate contact. I think he will be a marvellous player.”
And he insisted his team would not be any more physical with the 21-year-old than any other members of Gerardo Martino’s side, and admitted Brown had not been entirely innocent.
"We won’t treat Neymar any differently from any of the other 10 or 11 world-class players Barcelona have in their team," he said.
“Scott knows that he is in the wrong and he has served his punishment and I think he is looking very much forward to playing tomorrow."
Lennon was also keen to point out that Celtic had “the best supporters in the world bar none” despite the club banning 128 fans following crowd trouble at the club’s 5-0 win at Motherwell last Friday.
"Look, our supporters are the best in the world bar none. We have had a few problems of late which the club are trying to deal with as swiftly and as best they can.
"But that is not going to take away from the fantastic support we have – not just in Britain but around the world – and the great relationships our supporters forge with other clubs and the respect both sets of supporters have for each other here."
On the rumours that Barça are interested in signing Celta goalkeeper Fraser Forster as a replacement for Víctor Valdés, who will leave the Camp Nou in the summer, Lennon said:
'He would be a great player in any team but I obviously want him to continue at Celtic. I am happy for him to be in the list of future Barca keepers.’