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Lionel Messi Returning to Barcelona Is 'Impossible' Right Now, Says Xavi Hernandez

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 26, 2022

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez said Monday there's no chance Lionel Messi returns to the La Liga club from Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Xavi described the idea of Messi coming back to Camp Nou one year after his departure as "impossible" at the moment because of his PSG contract, but he admitted that outlook could change in the future.

"It doesn't make sense to speak about Messi. He is the best player in the world and the best ever," Xavi told reporters. "The president has already said that he hopes Messi's story has not finished with Barcelona. We will see in the future, but it's not the moment to speak about Leo, it's the moment to talk about the exciting players we have here."

Messi was expected to remain at Barcelona last summer, and the sides even reached an agreement on a contract extension to keep him with the club, but Barca announced last August the deal couldn't be finalized because of La Liga's "regulations on player registration."

Less than a week later he joined PSG. French outlet L'Equipe reported (via AS' Andres Onrubia) that the legendary forward signed a two-year contract with an option for a third season at the Parc des Princes worth up to $129 million.

Joan Laporta returned to the role of Barcelona president in March 2021 after running a campaign heavily focused on Messi's future. He previously held the position from 2003 through 2010, the period when the Argentine superstar began to emerge as one of the best players in history.

"I am sure that if someone else wins the election [other than me], Messi won't stay at the club," Laporta said during a debate before last year's election. "I have a good relationship with him; there's a lot of respect."

His return to the presidential post wasn't enough to secure Messi's future at Camp Nou, but he told ESPN on Sunday there's still hope for a storybook ending.

"I would hope that the Messi chapter isn't over," Laporta 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."

The 35-year-old playmaker didn't quite live up to his usual standard in his first season with PSG—his 11 goals across all competitions marked his lowest total since 2005-06—but he still compiled a productive six goals and 14 assists in 26 Ligue 1 appearances.

He'll once again help headline one of the world's most star-studded attacks this season alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for the Parisians.

It sounds like Barcelona will be heavily involved if Messi decides to decline the option in his Paris Saint-Germain contract next summer, though.

Albert Masnou of Diario Sport reported on Sunday that Xavi, Messi's former Barca teammate, has asked Laporta to sign the forward back in 2023 under the belief his return would "bring a lot to the club both on an economic level and a sporting one."

All told, whether the potential return happens next summer or a little further down the line, it would be a surprise if Messi's swan song doesn't take place with Barca.

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