Revealed: The key to Lionel Messi's Barcelona return as he seeks face-to-face meeting with Joan Laporta to bury the hatchet
- Messi's PSG contract expires this summer
- Mooted for potential Barca return
- But many factors must go his way
WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentina star sees his contract at French giants Paris Saint-Germain expire in three months' time, with no news as yet on an extension. Naturally, this has prompted countless rumours on Messi's next destination, most prominently a return to Barca, who have been open about welcoming back their former captain and No.10. Messi still shares a good relationship with current manager Xavi and, according to SPORT, his family are eager for a return to Catalonia.
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: However, that same report continues that work will need to be done to reconcile his relationship with Laporta. This was broken following the sudden termination of the player's contract ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, and aggravated further when the president publicly added that he would have liked Messi to play "for free". Therefore, both SPORT and Mundo Deportivo write that a face-to-face meeting will need to be called by Laporta, in order to explain past choices and bury the hatchet once and for all.
AND WHAT'S MORE: However, that's not all. MD go on to note that Messi still wants to play at the highest level, which could put to bed recent rumours of a move to Saudi Arabia. Despite plans for new stadium renovations, on the pitch Barca have made less progress. Xavi's side have failed to make it beyond the group stage of their last two Champions League campaigns in Messi's absence, although are 12 points clear at the top of La Liga this season with 12 games to play.
Perhaps most important, though, is the financial element. The Catalan club have already been constrained to delaying the registration of academy graduate Gavi amid their precarious financial situation, which was why Messi was forced out in the first place. SPORT continues that without Barca reducing their wage bill by €200 million next term, the move simply cannot go ahead, and in any case Messi will have to accept a significant drop in salary.
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WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? With three months left on his current deal and with suitors both in Europe and elsewhere, the Argentina captain will undoubtedly take his time to mull over a decision on his future. Ultimately, though, should these factors not go his way, a return to his boyhood club may be taken out of his hands altogether.