F.C. Barcelona is in discussions with Lionel Messi and his camp over a potential reunion this summer, the club’s vice president Rafa Yuste said in a news conference on Friday.
“I am still gutted he couldn’t continue here,” Yuste said. “Of course I would like him to come back, because of what he represents on a sporting, social and economic level.
“We are in contact with them, yes. Beautiful stories should have happy endings, and there is a mutual love between the two parties.”
Messi, 35, spent the entirety of his senior career with Barcelona before being forced to leave on a free transfer in 2021 due to the Spanish LaLiga’s strict financial fair play rules. While fincancials remain an obstacle for Barcelona in 2023 — the club would have to shed or balance more than $160 million from its payroll to bring Messi back — Yuste is optimistic there’s a path for Messi’s return.
“We still have two months to work hard to present our revenue and sustainability plan to [LaLiga president Javier] Tebas,” Yuste said.
Barcelona is currently 12 points clear of second place Real Madrid in LaLiga. In Messi’s last season with Barcelona, they finished third in LaLiga under Ronald Koeman. Barcelona is now coached by Xavi, who starred alongside Messi at Barcelona from 2004-2015.
Xavi has made it clear that Messi is always welcome at Barça, but he said he’s not leading the charge on that front out of respect for Messi, who’s still under contract with Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
“We are friends, we speak often, but it’s not the moment to talk about this, for the good of Leo, the club or the squad,” the Spanish manager said ahead of Barcelona’s trip to Elche. “It’s an issue we’re dealing with, but from that to [his return] is a big leap.
“I hope we see him come home. I’m the first person who would love to see the best player ever return. And it is normal that fans are excited about a ‘Last Dance’ like Michael Jordan.”
Other clubs will be in the mix for Messi, including MLS side Inter Miami CF, but no club in the world has a relationship with Messi like Barcelona.
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