Barcelona have been described as ‘studying’ ways that they might be able to reunite with Camp Nou icon Lionel Messi next year, having lost him to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.
Messi joined PSG as a free agent when his last Barça contract expired. Both parties had agreed to an extension, even though the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had actually asked to leave in 2020, but the club’s dire finances meant they didn’t have the salary room to register it with La Liga.
Speaking during the summer, Barça president Joan Laporta was adamant that the ‘Messi chapter isn’t over’.
He said at the time: “I think it's our responsibility to try to...find a moment to fix that chapter, which is still open and hasn't closed, so it turns out like it should have and have a more beautiful ending.
“As president of Barca, I did what I had to do [letting Messi go from a financial perspective]. But also as president of Barca, and on a personal level, I think I owe him.”
Only days later, Laporta claimed, “We will make this aspiration a reality,” regarding re-signing Messi.
Now, Mundo Deportivo has reported that Barça are exploring the ways they might reunite with Messi, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be as a player.
The ideal route would be to sign him on a free transfer in 2023, although his PSG contract does include an option for another year to 2024.
To return in a playing capacity, there must be enough salary room, which there obviously wasn’t in 2021, and he must also complement the new project being built by former teammate Xavi. He may have to accept a reduced salary and, turning 36 next summer, a reduced role on the pitch.
The alternative if he decides to hang up his boots would be rejoining Barça as a global ambassador and representing the club off the pitch around the world. But this would only be secondary plan.
Mundo Deportivo reveals that claims of a recent telephone call between Messi and Laporta, alleged by a club source to have taken place, have been denied by the player’s camp.