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Barcelona 'would very much love' for Messi to return & I'm convinced the club is still 'in his heart' - Laporta

15:15 GMT 22/12/2022
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2017-18
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has reiterated that he would "very much love" for Lionel Messi to return, but concedes any deal will be "difficult".
  • Barca hope Messi will return someday
  • PSG rumours make deal unlikely
  • Reports suggest Messi close to new contract

WHAT HAPPENED? Amid reports of Messi reaching a verbal agreement for a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain, Laporta has admitted he still hopes the Barca legend will return to Camp Nou before he retires. The Blaugrana chief was delighted to see a club legend finally fulfil his World Cup dream with Argentina, but has also warned supporters to temper their expectations with regard to a potential homecoming in 2023.

WHAT THEY SAID: Laporta believes Messi's love for Barca remains strong, but he acknowledges the fact that PSG have him tied to a contract until at least the end of the season. "On the subject of Messi, we can’t generate expectations," he told Barca TV. "Messi is a PSG player and has a contract with them. He has won the World Cup and the Culés have been very happy. What I don’t want to do is generate expectations that at the moment are very difficult. For us he is the best player of all time, we have had him here and I am convinced that in his heart he is a Culé and will always be linked to Barca. Whether or not he comes back as a player, at the moment he is at PSG and we would very much love him to come back one day, but we’ll see."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Talk of Messi playing for Barcelona again has never really died down since he left the club in 2021. But the club is financially constrained, and a deal now would be more difficult than ever. Recent talk out of PSG suggests a Barcelona move is now even more unlikely. Messi has reportedly reached a verbal agreement with the Ligue 1 leaders on a new contract that would extend his stay at Parc des Princes through to 2024.

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WHAT NEXT FOR BARCELONA? The La Liga leaders turn their focus to the second half of the season, with Xavi's side set to face Espanyol in a derby clash on December 31.