Barcelona vice president Eduard Romeu didn’t rule out a shocking reunion with Lionel Messi next summer, when the club legend will be a free agent.
“It would be possible financially, because if he returned it would be as a free agent,” he said Wednesday on Catalunya Radio (via ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens).
“But it’s a decision which has to be made by the coaching staff and the player. It doesn’t correspond to me [to make those decisions], but it would be viable.”
Messi signed a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021, and the sides have yet to agree to an extension. As a result, he might have the opportunity to once again pick his next destination as early as this January, when he can line up a pre-contract agreement.
The dire state of Barcelona’s finances left him with no other choice but to leave in the summer of 2021. Their debts totaled more than €1.3 billion, so re-signing a player previously on a reported €138 million annual salary was out of the question.
A tearful Messi bid farewell to the club before signing with Paris Saint-Germain.
The 35-year-old cut a forlorn figure last season with PSG. He finished with six goals and 14 assists in 26 Ligue 1 matches and failed to deliver the European glory the club so clearly craves. He went scoreless in a two-leg round-of-16 defeat to Real Madrid.
Having pulled multiple economic “levers,” which largely involved selling off future earnings for an upfront payment, Barcelona are now on more stable financial footing.
Club president Joan Laporta told ESPN in July he hoped to lure Messi back to Camp Nou.
“I would hope that the Messi chapter isn’t over,” he said. “I think it’s our responsibility to try to … find a moment to fix that chapter, which is still open and hasn’t closed, so it turns out like it should have, and that it has a more beautiful ending.”
Still, that door might be closed for good.
Messi looks rejuvenated, having already scored four goals and assisted on seven more for Paris Saint-Germain. An extended stay in the French capital looks likelier now than it did this past summer.
Perhaps the Argentine forward will use his impending free agency to make his move to Major League Soccer and lay the groundwork for life after football.
More than anything, a Barcelona homecoming might sound better in theory than it would be in practice.
Barca don’t need much help in the attack at the moment, with Robert Lewandowski immediately acclimating to his new surroundings. Ousmane Dembélé is largely picking up from where he left off last season as well.
Slotting Messi into the front three could be much easier said than done, and even at his age, he could once again become far too heliocentric a figure on the pitch.
As painful as Messi’s departure was, Barcelona might be smart to leave things in the past.