- Argentine superstar hitting free agency
- Linked with a return to Catalunya
- Will be chasing an American dream instead
WHAT HAPPENED? The newly-crowned La Liga champions were heavily linked with a prodigal son once it became apparent that he would not be signing a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain. Talks were held between the Barca board and representatives of Messi, but no agreement was reached for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and he will now be bidding farewell to European football as he prepares to link up with MLS side Inter Miami.
WHAT THEY SAID: Reflecting on Barca’s inability to bring Messi back to Catalunya, Dutch midfielder De Jong – who spent two years working alongside the Argentine between 2019 and 2021 – told De Telegraaf: “I think every team would like to have Lionel there, because he makes a difference anytime, anywhere. It’s a shame he didn’t come to Barcelona. I would have liked him there, would have found his return top-notch. We’ll now see who joins and who leaves.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Financial struggles have made it difficult for Barca to put deals in place for marquee additions, with sales expected to be sanctioned this summer in an effort to raise funds. De Jong is among those to have generated plenty of speculation in recent windows, as he was heavily linked with Manchester United, but the 26-year-old midfielder is expecting to stay put. He added on his own future: “I feel good at Barcelona. If all goes well I will stay there. You can’t say anything 100% but I guess next season I will play for Barcelona.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? Barca are bidding farewell to club stalwarts Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba this summer, with there plenty of rumours to be found regarding possible additions as attention shifts away from the long-running pursuit of 2022 World Cup winner Messi.