Joey Barton has moved to clarify his famous tweet about Neymar in 2013.
The Brazilian, who netted 39 goals in helping the Catalans win the treble last term, has continued to terrorise defences alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez this season in what is arguably one of the most formidable tridents in history.
The 24-year-old tormented Arsenal in Tuesday's Champions League win at the Emirates, and the Talksport presenter took a moment to tease Barton about his past musings, though the ex-QPR man insisted that his comments were merely tongue in cheek.
“Who’s improved dramatically – Neymar or Bieber?! There’s an argument for both," he said on Talksport. “He’s definitely improved, Neymar, without a shadow of a doubt. He’s got better.
“If you take into context what I said: I was saying not at the level of Messi or Ronaldo. I don’t think anybody who is of sane mind would say that he is. Obviously, as I have a habit of doing, I just try to make fun of situations and obviously the Justin Bieber-Neymar call was a bit tongue in cheek.
“Do I think he is capable of getting to that level? Well he is certainly improving, but will he be better than Messi in time? No I don’t [think so] is the honest answer."
Neymar has certainly come on leaps and bounds throughout the course of his three-and-a-half year stint in Catalonia, following a £48 million move from Santos in 2013.
In November, he was named in the final three-man panel for the 2015 Ballon d'Or, in which Messi edged out Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award for a record fifth time last month.