FC Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has reportedly asked the club to bring back Lionel Messi.
Messi has entered the final year of his contract at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Xavi wants the Catalans to re-sign Messi on a free transfer next summer. The head coach believes the former Barcelona skipper’s return could help the club on both economic and sporting levels, given Xavi reckons Messi still has a few good years left in his boots, reported Spanish outlet THE SPORT.
The 35-year-old made a tearful exit from Barcelona, his boyhood club, where he spent some of the glory days of his career. Due to their financial crisis, Barcelona could not renew Messi’s contract, which saw the Argentinean forward join PSG as a free agent in the summer of 2021.
However, Messi did not have a great maiden season in Paris as he managed just 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 competitive games for PSG. While he won the Ligue 1 title with PSG last season, Barcelona failed to win a single trophy in 2021-22.
Earlier this week, Barcelona chief Joan Laporta said that Messi’s “chapter” at the club is “not over” and considers it his responsibility to ensure the forward has a “more beautiful ending” at Camp Nou.
“Messi was everything. To Barca, he’s been possibly its greatest player, the most efficient. To me, he’s only comparable to Johan Cruyff. But it had to happen one day. We had to make a decision as a consequence of what we inherited. The institution is in charge of players, coaches,” Laporta said in an interview with ESPN.
Messi, who first moved to Barcelona as a 13-year-old boy, ended up spending nearly 17 seasons with the first team. In 778 competitive appearances, Messi scored 672 goals and provided 303 assists as he was instrumental in the massive success Barcelona tasted over the years, including winning four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles.
“I would hope that the Messi chapter isn’t over. 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,” added Laporta in the same interview.
Laporta also said that Messi “will get the farewell he deserves.”
Xavi took over Barcelona’s charge in the middle of last season. After struggling at No. 8 or 9 in the La Liga table for the majority of the season, the Camp Nou side finished second in the league and secured the Champions League for the 2022-23 campaign.
Further strengthening the squad, Barcelona have made a few exciting signings this summer, including legendary Polish forward Robert Lewandowski and a talented forward from Leeds United Raphinha. Xavi also convinced Ousmane Dembele to accept a lower salary and sign a contract extension.
Barcelona are scheduled to begin their 2022-23 La Liga campaign by taking on Rayo Vallecano on Aug. 12.