Neymar has spoken in the past about his desire to return to Brazil and play for Santos, the club he developed with as a youth talent. Having made frequent appearances to watch Santos this season while he nurses an injury, the Brazilian is now rearing to feature for Santos. Ahead of Santos’ first-leg game against Palmeiras in the Campeonato Paulista, Neymar paraded the competition’s trophy around the stadium. Before then, though, he spoke to the players in the Santos dressing room. There, he told them he will return in 2025 to play in the Brasileirão.

According to Brazilian publication UOL, Neymar will play out the remaining time on his contract with Al Hilal in the Saudi Pro League. Upon joining in the summer, Neymar signed a two-year contract with the Saudi side. Even though he has only played five games with Al-Hilal, he is under contract for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 campaigns.

His injury concerns have made his schedule more open, though. This recent trip to see Santos is the second time Neymar has visited Santos since the club elected a new president. Neymar and this new President, Marcelo Teixeira, have kept a close relationship. Texeira allowed Neymar to see the current Santos squad before taking on Palmeiras. Likewise, Neymar had a suite at the game to watch Santos go on to win.

Texeira has maintained hope that Neymar will eventually return to the side. Neymar’s passion and love for Santos has been unwavering since leaving for Barcelona over 10 years ago. Now, Neymar’s admission that he will return to Santos in 2025 could turn the fortunes of the club around.

Santos is in the second division despite the potential return of Neymar

Last season, Santos dropped into the second division in Brazil for the first time in its 112-year history. Neymar had a message on social media that read “Santos, always Santos,” to show his support for the club amid its struggles. Attending games also showed the desire of the fans to bring Neymar back into the fold. They showered Neymar with chants to return home to Santos. Throughout the game, Neymar greeted supporters with waves and recognition.

Granted, the team would welcome any kind of talent of Neymar’s level. Success in the Campeonato Paulista, which solely involves teams from the state of Sao Paulo, is no surprise. However, poor performances in the Brasileirão yielded the worst punishment in the side’s history.

Santos will be far and away the favorite to earn promotion back to the top flight in Brazil. In the Campeonato Paulista knockout round, Santos defeated Red Bull Bragantino, 3-1. Now, Santos has a lead on aggregate against bitter rivals Palmeiras, with the return leg coming this weekend.

These players are getting massive experience despite playing in the second division of Brazil. Neymar did not want to take away from the importance of the final, so he kept his team talk short when he told the players he would be returning. That prospect presents a massive boost for Santos for this season and next.