Barcelona president Joan Laporta indicated in an interview that the club could have re-signed Lionel Messi after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired at the end of June.
According to Pol Balls of The Athletic, Laporta told Spanish site La Vanguardia that Messi chose Major League Soccer and Inter Miami over a return to Barcelona this summer.
“I understand Messi’s decision to join Miami,” Laporta explained. “But we had an agreement with La Liga and they knew we were going to use a part of our resources to cover up for Messi. This was contemplated on our viability plan, approved by La Liga. We told Jorge Messi (the player’s father and agent) and he replied that Leo had gone through a tough year in Paris and that he wanted to have less pressure on his shoulders.”
Messi stated last month that he “really wanted to return to” Barcelona but “did not want to be in the same situation” as when the Catalan club refused to re-sign him in the summer of 2021 due to financial concerns.
Barcelona later stated that they “respected Messi’s decision to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subjected to in recent years,” and manager Xavi Hernandez hinted that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner wanted to leave the “spotlight” of a top-tier European league.
Last month, Spanish football writer Guillem Balague claimed that Barcelona re-signing Messi was financially “impossible,” but Balls reported Monday that sources said the club was “very close” to completing a reunion with the 36-year-old.
“In the end, according to the player’s camp, it all collapsed because of a lack of clarity on the financial side,” Ballús added. “They knew Barcelona needed to offload multiple first-team players to have the money to pay for Messi — something the player did not want to be responsible for.”
Messi was also concerned that Barcelona might be unable to register him for the upcoming season, according to Balls. Messi is now set to make his Inter Miami debut on July 21 against Cruz Azul in a Leagues Cup match.