‘I don’t believe Messi’s chapter at Barcelona is over’ – Laporta longing to bring Argentine back to Camp Nou

An all-time great left Catalunya for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent in 2021, but a door remains open for him to retrace those steps

Lionel Messi returning to Barcelona remains a distinct possibility in the eyes of Joan Laporta, with the Blaugrana president claiming that the Argentine’s historic “chapter” at Camp Nou is not yet finished. For now, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner finds himself on the books of Paris Saint-Germain, having made a move to France as a free agent in the summer of 2021.

Financial difficulties for La Liga giants meant that a contract could not be offered to an all-time great back then, but Barca have worked hard to generate much-needed funds and a retracing of steps to Catalunya for a legendary figure may yet be arranged.

The mercurial 35-year-old still has a year left to run on his contract at PSG, while a 12-month extension to 2024 is being speculated on, but Laporta has told ESPN when asked if a South American superstar could return to Barcelona: “Messi has been everything.

“For Barca, he has possibly been the best player in history, the most efficient, only comparable to Johan Cruyff in the history of Barca.

“But it had to happen one day, we had to make a decision as a consequence of the legacy we had received, the institution is above players and coaches.

“I don’t believe Messi’s chapter at Barcelona is over. And I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that chapter is still open, that it hasn’t closed.

“To have a moment to do it how it should have been done so that he may have a much more splendid ending than what he had.”

Any deal for Messi will not be easy, as he is now tied to the reigning Ligue 1 champions and is not getting any younger, but Laporta believes that Barca “owe” it to former fan favourite to put things right.

He added: “Do I feel like I owe him one? Yes.

“Morally, as the president of Barcelona, I think I did what needed to be done. But also as Barcelona’s president, and personally, I believe I owe him one.”

Messi previously hit 672 goals for Barca through 778 appearances, helping them to 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns while collecting a record-setting haul of Golden Balls on a personal level.

His first season at PSG did not play out as planned, with the target found just 11 times, but it remains to be seen whether an emotional return to a spiritual home in Spain can be put in place.