Sports, Football

Messi future decision drawing near with Barca return hopes fading

Published : 02 Jun 2023 08:13 PM

With Lionel Messi's time at Paris Saint-Germain drawing to a close, the Argentine forward will soon reveal his future-- but hopes of a romantic return to Barcelona are fading.

Messi, who turns 36 in June, is Barcelona's all-time record goalscorer and biggest icon and was forced to wave a tearful goodbye in 2021 at the end of his contract, with the club unable to afford to keep him.

Coach Xavi Hernandez has been pushing hard for the World Cup winner to come back, but Messi's camp has told Spanish media no offer from Barcelona has arrived yet.

"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," Xavi told Spanish daily Diario Sport.

Barcelona are waiting for La Liga to approve a financial viability plan ahead of spending in the summer transfer window.

"At the moment it seems difficult for Messi to return to Barca," said La Liga president Javier Tebas in April.

"Barca are not like PSG, who have a fuel tap and money for a big salary."

La Liga's financial fair play rules currently limit Barcelona to spending 40 percent of any savings made through salary cuts or player sales, because of the club's losses.

Even if they bring in enough new income to break free of the league's financial handcuffs, what they can offer Messi would be modest.

By contrast, elsewhere Messi will be paid a king's ransom, into the hundreds of millions.

A source close to the deal told AFP in May the forward has an agreement to move to the Saudi Arabian league, joining his former Real Madrid sparring partner Cristiano Ronaldo in the Gulf state.