Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez said on Monday that Lionel Messi will not return to the La Liga club from Paris Saint-Germain for the 2022-23 season.
Because of his PSG contract, Xavi described Messi returning to Camp Nou one year after his departure as “impossible” at the moment, but he admitted that outlook could change in the future.
“It makes no sense to bring up Messi. He is the best player in the world and the greatest of all time “Xavi stated to reporters. “The president has previously stated that he hopes Messi’s story does not end with Barcelona. We’ll see in the future, but now isn’t the time to talk about Leo; now is the time to talk about the exciting players we have here.”
Messi was expected to stay at Barcelona last summer, and the clubs even agreed on a contract extension to keep him, but Barca announced in August that the deal couldn’t be finalized due to La Liga’s “regulations on player registration.”
He joined PSG less than a week later. The legendary forward signed a two-year contract with a $129 million option for a third season at the Parc des Princes, according to French outlet L’Equipe (via AS’ Andres Onrubia).
After running a campaign heavily focused on Messi’s future, Joan Laporta returned to the role of Barcelona president in March 2021. He previously held the position from 2003 to 2010, during which time the Argentine superstar emerged as one of the greatest players in history.
“I am certain that if someone other than me wins the election, Messi will not stay at the club,” Laporta said during a debate before last year’s election. “I have a good relationship with him; we have a lot of respect for each other.”
His return to the presidency was insufficient to secure Messi’s future at Camp Nou, but he told ESPN on Sunday that there is still hope for a fairytale ending.
“I’m hoping the Messi saga isn’t over,” Laporta said. “I believe it is our responsibility to try to… find a moment to fix that chapter, which is still open and hasn’t closed, so it turns out the way it should and has a more beautiful ending.”
The 35-year-old playmaker didn’t quite live up to his usual standards in his first season with PSG, scoring 11 goals in all competitions, his lowest total since 2005-06, but he still managed six goals and 14 assists in 26 Ligue 1 appearances.
This season, he’ll be part of one of the world’s most star-studded attacks for the Parisians, alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
If Messi declines the option in his Paris Saint-Germain contract next summer, it appears that Barcelona will be heavily involved.
According to Albert Masnou of Diario Sport, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Xavi has asked Laporta to sign the forward back in 2023, believing his return would “bring a lot to the club both economically and sportingly.”
Overall, whether the potential return occurs next summer or later, it would be surprising if Messi’s swan song does not take place with Barcelona.