- Messi likely to leave PSG
- Xavi open to Barca return
- Insists 35-year-old would be "decisive player"
WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentine may have secured the 2022-23 Ligue 1 title for Paris Saint-Germain in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Strasbourg, but it seems his days in the French capital are numbered. After being forced out of Barcelona in the summer of 2021, the Catalan giants have since been vocal about their openness to a sensational return. This is perhaps no stronger felt than from manager and Messi's former team-mate Xavi, who is adamant the 35-year-old Argentine can take his side to the next level.
WHAT THEY SAID: Asked in an exclusive interview with Spanish outlet SPORT whether his signing makes sense amid a supposed rebuild, Xavi responded: "Yes, it makes sense to me. As far as I'm concerned, which is on a footballing level, I'm in charge of football at this club. For me there is no doubt that if Messi comes back he will help us on a footballing level. That's what I've let the president know.
"I have no doubt, no doubt that he is going to help us because he is still a decisive player, because he is still hungry, because he is a winner, because he is a leader and because he is also a different player, different. We don't have a Barca with the talent of 2010, for example. And what would Messi bring to you? He would bring you talent. Last pass, set pieces, goals... in the final third, a differential player. Therefore, and the way I want to play, the way we want to play among the staff, for me there is no doubt that he would bring us a lot, but it depends on him."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The 2022 World Cup winner has seen a number of potential destinations speculated on, including a reported record-breaking deal from Saudi outfit Al-Hilal and a transfer to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS. But while eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo now plies his trade in the Middle East, Xavi feels that Messi can still represent teams at the highest level - and for some time, too.
"Perhaps he has been losing his explosiveness," the Barca boss continued. "But we also saw an extraordinary Messi at the World Cup, with explosiveness, no? In the end I think he still has years ahead of him, at a very high level. Not for us, today there is no doubt that he would help us."
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WHAT NEXT? As PSG's league season has now drawn to a close, Messi faces little over a month before his contract at the Parc des Princes expires. A renewal is not off the table but certainly appears unlikely, although any return to Catalonia would require a significant reduction of the club's extortionate wage bill.