The Brazilian, who has since moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, struggled to hold back the tears as he praised Messi for his help during a tough period in his life.
‘It’s a story I tell everyone,’ he said in an interview.
‘At the time, when I needed the most support, the man on the team, the best in the world, came and gave me love.
‘He talked to me and said: “Come here, you must be yourself, you must be happy and the same as in Santos. Do not be shy, do not be afraid of me or anyone in this club. We are here to help you”.’
Neymar has been consistently linked with a move back to the Nou Camp, given his strong friendship with members of the Barcelona squad.
When queried once more about the potential of a return, the 27-year-old refused to rule it out and reiterated how much his friendship with Messi means to him.
‘It’s difficult, it’s difficult,’ Neymar said. ‘To be honest, it is very difficult because Leo was a very special guy for me at Barcelona.
Since leaving for Paris in 2017, Neymar has netted 48 goals in 53 matches, but is currently sidelined with a broken foot.
PSG are 17 points clear with a game in hand at the top of Ligue 1, while it is much the same for Barcelona in the Spanish top flight.
The Catalans are seven clear of Atletico Madrid in second, while Real Madrid languishes in third, nine points off top.