Lionel Messi’s exit from Barcelona was one of the most staggering transfers of all time, and now, he has been linked with a return.
The 35-year-old’s time with Paris Saint-Germain is over after manager Christophe Galtier confirmed his departure.
This announcement followed the Argentine superstar flying to Saudi Arabia for a two-day unauthorised trip.
Messi was then booed on his return by the PSG fans and his future is away from France.
A return to Barcelona is now on the cards.
Why did Messi leave Barcelona?
Messi made his debut for Barcelona in October 2006 and went on to make 778 appearances for the club before his departure in 2021.
The forward scored 672 goals and provided 303 assists, and won the Champions League four times.
Unfortunately, Barca as a club and team declined, but Messi got better and better, and it seemed as if he would be there until the end of his career in Europe before returning to Argentina or heading to the Middle East.
The origins of Messi’s departure started in 2020 when the player decided he wanted to leave because of what he perceived to be board incompetence.
Under Josep Maria Bartomeu’s guidance, the Catalan giants faded as a major footballing force and Messi attempted to push through a move to Manchester City.
He informed the board of his decision and wanted to leave due to a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for free at the end of each season.
Barcelona claimed Messi had missed the deadline and threatened legal action.
And because he loved Barca, Messi refused to take the club to court.
In an interview in 2020, Messi said: “I would never go to court against Barcelona.
“I told the club that I wanted to go. I had been telling him that all year.
“The club needed new, younger players and my time was over.”
Things improved as the 2020/21 season progressed and Bartomeu was replaced as club president by Joan Laporta.
However, the LaLiga giants were now in serious financial difficulties because of COVID and their incredible wage bill.
The club also isn’t owned by a nation-state or a collection of billionaires, and a lot of their funding comes from sponsorship deals.
But by the time it came to Messi’s contract extension, the Argentine had changed his mind and was ready to commit to the club.
He even agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut to ensure he could be registered with LaLiga for the upcoming campaign.
The deal was expected to be straightforward, but LaLiga’s strict Financial Fair Play rules ended Messi’s Barca career.
Every club in Spain has a spending cap that increases and decreases depending on the debt level.
And after Barcelona recorded losses of 487million euros for the 2020/21 season, their spending cap was cut from over 600 million Euros to under 100 million.
Messi couldn’t even agree to lower his salary by more or play for free because LaLiga rules prevent that to stop fraud and exploitation.
Therefore, Messi was left with no choice but to depart the club he loved.
The iconic forward spoke at a press conference after it was announced he would leave and said: “Honestly, when the elections happened [in March], I spoke with Laporta, we had dinner, and after that, I was convinced I would be staying.
“My contract was never the issue… What I know is that I did everything I could. The club say it could not happen because of LaLiga.
“I can guarantee you that I did everything I could to stay. Last year I didn’t want to and I said that, but this year it was different.”
And with that, he joined PSG on a two-year deal.
Could Messi return to Barcelona?
Barcelona believe it’s now possible to bring the Argentine back to Catalonia this summer.
Messi never wanted to leave in the first place and was willing to take a massive pay cut.
The club and Messi’s people have opened talks, although initial reports suggested the club would offer the forward £22million per year.
Barca are still struggling financially, so are having to be creative when it comes to finding solutions to sign Messi.
One idea is to pay Messi 200,000 Euros per year plus the entire proceeds of his farewell match, which is expected to be 100million Euros.
Another idea is to pay the Argentine a low base wage, but that would be topped up with a percentage of the income Barcelona make while Messi is back at the club.
And another solution involves Inter Miami and David Beckham.
The MLS club are preparing to offer Messi a four-year deal that would see him earn 200million Euros and spend 18 months of that contract at Barcelona.
This would massively help the Spanish club as they wouldn’t have to pay Messi anything, while the Argentine would get his farewell season.
So there are a lot of potential solutions being discussed by Barcelona, but it is clear they want Messi back, and the Camp Nou hero is more than open to a return.
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