Barcelona has contact with Messi and dreams aloud about return
Two years after his rumored and emotional farewell at FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi may already be returning. Vice president of the club Rafael Yuste confirms that the Catalans are in contact with the Argentine’s management.
Messi was forced to leave Barcelona in 2021, after 21 years and no fewer than 34 prizes, including the Champions League four times. The club could no longer pay him due to a billion-dollar debt. Even staying for free proved not to be an option because of regulations in Spain.
The 35-year-old Messi tearfully announced his departure and moved to French club Paris Saint-Germain.
His contract in Paris expires after this season. During a press conference, Yuste indicated that the club sees a return as an option. “I would love it if he comes back. Hopefully we can convince him to come back.”
Barcelona coach Xavi, who himself played with Messi for many years, also does not rule out the reunion. “I talk to him often and it’s also something we are working on. We would love to see him play here again. This is the club of his life. He is the best player in the history of the club.”
Xavi continued the praise: “Of course I am in love with Leo. The fans are excited about a Last Dance, like with Michael Jordan,” Xavi alludes to the Netflix documentary about basketball icon Jordan. “The most important thing is that people get excited and I understand that they get that. It doesn’t depend on me, it depends more on what Leo wants.”
In Paris, although Messi became champion in his first season, he was stranded in the eighth finals of the Champions League with the Parisians. Again this season, PSG was eliminated in the eighth finals, even though winning the billion-dollar ball is the big goal of Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi.
A return to “his” club would be a logical step for Messi, vice president Yuste continued. “I think Leo also loves the club and the city. This is his destiny.”
Messi has several records to his name at Barcelona. For example, he is the top scorer of all time with 672 official goals. He is also the player with the most duels ever for Spain’s 26-time national champion: 778.
That is why Xavi is trying to give the Argentine the final push toward Barcelona: “He has won everything in soccer and his luck depends on him. If he wants to come back and has the will, we will talk about it, but we haven’t talked much about it. If he wants to come back, I will be very happy.”
‘Save two hundred million first’
How likely the transfer is is unclear. Last summer, the ailing club managed to get a number of top players through financial constructions, including Polish striker Robert Lewandowski. Spanish league president Javier Tebas warns that they cannot repeat this for another transfer window.
“They can’t do that trick again next summer. They either have to increase their income or cut spending. I suspect they have to save about two hundred million euros. That can be done by selling players, for example.”
Also, Barcelona is currently under a magnifying glass because of a possible bribery scandal. Sportingly, things are going much better. Frenkie de Jong’s club is on course for its first Spanish national title since 2019, thanks to a 12-point lead over arch-rival Real Madrid.