Barcelona confirm contact with Lionel Messi over summer transfer
By Tom Gott
Barcelona vice-president Rafa Yuste has confirmed the club are in contact with Lionel Messi's camp over a possible summer return to Camp Nou.
Messi left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, signing an initial two-year contract which also includes the option for the Argentine to extend that by a further season - an option which has not yet been triggered.
PSG have offered a new contract to Messi, who also has interest in his services from clubs in both MLS and Saudi Arabia, but 90min understands that is increasingly likely that Barcelona will bring Messi back to the club he previously served for 21 years.
Indeed, Yuste has now confessed that Barcelona are in contact with Messi and did not shy away from his desire to lure the 35-year-old back to Catalonia.
"Leo and his family know the affection I have for them," he told Sport. "I participated in the negotiations that unfortunately did not lead to success.
"I'm gutted that Leo could not continue at out club. If you talk about La Masia, you talk about Messi. Of course, I would love to see him come back, for what it could represent at a sporting, social and economic level. and I think the fans too because beautiful stories in life have to have a happy ending. And we are in love with Messi and I think Messi is in love with Barça and the city of Barcelona. We are in contact with them, yes."
Yuste's words were soon put to manager Xavi who, as always, was keen to keep the focus on his current team.
"This is not the time to talk about Leo's return," Xavi said. "I am a friend and I speak often with him, but this is not the time. Neither for the good of Leo, nor the club. It is a subject that we are dealing with. I have a lot of friendship, but we are a world away from it being able to be done."
Xavi continued: "I watched Messi grow. He's exemplary. It's normal for there to be an illusion. One last 'Last Dance', like Michael Jordan. It's normal for people to get excited.
"Hopefully I can see Leo again at Barça in some capacity. I would be the first to celebrate his return. It's the club of his life, he is the best player in history, but this is not the time to talk. We are one month away from being able to win two titles. We don't have to talk about possible signings or Messi, we have to focus on Elche, Real Madrid, and everything else that is coming."
READ MORE FROM 90MIN'S TALKING TRANSFERS TEAM
Yuste did, however, concede that Barcelona still have plenty of work to do if they are to prove to La Liga that they can afford to re-sign Messi.
“There are two months left in which we have to work, especially Mateu [Alemany] and Jordi [Cruyff], to first present our viability plan to [La Liga president Javier] Tebas," the vice-president acknowledged. "The president was with Leo's father and there is a good relationship.
"Of course, there is no plan of attack because I do not want PSG to see it precisely as that. If this happens, it will happen because destiny makes you return to where you have to return. If we can fulfil all the conditions and return Leo to Barcelona, it would be the perfect ending to a very happy story."
PSG manager Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, also confirmed that the club remain in talks with Messi over an extension.
“We’re working on what’s going to happen next season, along with [sporting advisor] Luis Campos and the management," he said.
"People have different opinions on where we want to improve to be more competitive. There are talks between the two parties. Personally I’m focused on the next ten games to go and get that Ligue 1 title. Regarding what Messi and the club will decide, that remains confidential.”
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss Julian Nagelsmann's future and links to the vacant Tottenham head coach role, Barcelona's ambition to bring Lionel Messi 'home', Brighton teenager Evan Ferguson, Florian Wirtz, Kalvin Phillips and more!
If you can't see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!