Joan Laporta key as Lionel Messi makes ‘final decision’ on Barcelona return

James Holland
Lionel Messi PSG

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi has come to a ‘final decision’ over whether he will return to the Nou Camp as a player, according to reports.

The Argentine won six Ballon d’Ors during an incredibly successful 16-year spell in Catalonia. His other achievements include ten La Liga titles, four Champions League winners’ medals and seven Copa del Reys.

Messi did not want to leave Barcelona in the summer, but had to as a result of their dire financial situation. Club president Joan Laporta revealed the Blaugrana simply could not afford his astronomical wages.

Messi went on to join French giants Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. He is on three Champions League goals so far this season, including one against Man City.

The 34-year-old got his first Ligue 1 goal on Saturday, during a 3-1 home win over Nantes.

Messi’s contract at the Parc des Princes runs until 2023, resulting in hopes that he would one day return to Barca as a player. These suggestions were increased by the recent return of Dani Alves, Messi’s former team-mate.

But the Mirror, citing reports in the Spanish press, state that Messi has no intention of re-joining Barca once his contract in France expires – and that is his ‘final decision’.

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The superstar has been angered by Laporta’s comments over Alves’ signing. The chief said he had made ‘significant financial effort to return’, suggesting that Messi had not.

Laporta and Messi also disagree over the terms of the player’s exit. Messi believes he did all he could to remain with the club, including an offer to take a 50 per cent pay cut. That’s not the view of Laporta, who has spoken about wanting the forward to play for free.

The strained relationship between the pair puts Messi’s long-term future in doubt, too. He is widely expected to join the club as a coach or ambassador once he retires. But as long as Laporta remains president, that is unlikely.

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Messi could be rocked by Pochettino move

Messi has a close bond with PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino, a fellow Argentine. But the 49-year-old might not be his manager for long.

Pochettino is a top target for Man Utd after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s exit at the weekend. The Sun write that he is keen to move to Old Trafford, as his family remains in England from his time at Spurs.

The Times, meanwhile, state that Pochettino has told friends of his desire to manage the Red Devils. He sees them as a long-term project and has reservations about his longevity at PSG.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is also a target for the Manchester club, although Zinedine Zidane is not under consideration. The Ballon d’Or winner wants to manage PSG or the French national team next.

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