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Lionel Messi

Will Lionel Messi go back to Barcelona? Assessing potential transfer return to Camp Nou

23:14 EAT 21/01/2022
Lionel Messi Barcelona
GOAL has what you need to know about the possibility of the Argentina star ever returning to Camp Nou

Lionel Messi shocked the world when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona on a free transfer, forced to leave his boyhood club due to financial obstacles.

Messi was tearful giving his final Barcelona press conference, regretting the circumstances in which he had to leave while also maintaining an optimism for his new adventure with PSG. Messi's story with Barcelona is a romantic one, of course, so could he ever make a return to Camp Nou?

GOAL takes a look.

Will Lionel Messi ever return to Barcelona?

Messi has never teased the possibility of making to a return to his boyhood club, instead choosing to focus on his time with PSG.

“Now it’s time to change the chip because I still want to help achieve all the objectives we have set ourselves at PSG and I want to focus on that and work hard to make it happen," Messi told reporters after Argentina secured their spot in World Cup 2022.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has stated that he was not going to close the door on former Blaugrana players coming back as coaching staff or in a management role.

“I’m not ruling out Messi and Iniesta coming back," Laporta initially stated during Dani Alves’ presentation, later clarifying his own statement to mean: “I think as players is not a possibility.” 

The appointment of Xavi as Barcelona manager has naturally led to speculation that other ex-Barcelona players could join him either as a player or a member of his coaching team – like with the return of his former team-mate Dani Alves – but Messi, for now, remains committed to PSG, while Andres Iniesta is still playing for Vissel Kobe.

Why did Lionel Messi leave Barcelona?

Messi left Barcelona due to "financial and structural obstacles". The Camp Nou side were unable to agree on a new deal with the Argentine, which led to his exit.

The "obstacles" that the Liga side have referred to are La Liga's Financial Fair Play rules, and specifically their competition's salary cap rules.

Barcelona's financial situation, which sees the club having debts that add up to over €1 billion, is a major contributing factor in the scenario. Losses of nearly €600 million mean that Barcelona had to reduce their wage bill in order to comply with La Liga's Fair Play restrictions – and Messi's wages would not have helped with this issue.

Laporta indicated that the long-term sustainability of Barcelona is "above everything else - even the best player in the world."

Will Lionel Messi retire at PSG?

Despite a tough start to the season with PSG, Messi has seemingly found his stride and, according to Sport, has every intention of fulfilling his contract, which expires in 2023. Messi's future beyond that is unclear – he will be 35 years old when his contract ends – but it's possible he could agree to an extension at the Parc des Princes.

“Messi is focused on a tough season [with PSG] with the hope that success on the pitch will compensate for his sacrifices,” Sport stated. They added: “Leo has a sense of pride and is not thinking about going back [to Barcelona]."

During the Ballon d'Or ceremony in 2019, Messi briefly discussed how he approaches retirement. Messi was 32 at the time, but stated that he hopefully plans to play for as long as he feels physically able to: “I'm aware of how old I am. And I enjoy these moments so much because I know that retirement is approaching. Time flies.”

He added: “I hope, God willing, that I keep playing for many more years. I'm now 32, though, and will be 33 at the end of the season, so, as I said, everything depends on how I feel physically.

“Right now I feel better than ever on a physical and a personal level, and I hope I can go on for a lot longer.”

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