Lionel Messi could return to Barcelona one day, according to club president Joan Laporta, who feels “indebted” to the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi’s 21-year association with Barcelona, 16 of those spent as part of the senior squad, came to an end last August when he signed for PSG as a free agent. The Argentina international won every trophy available with Barca and departed as the club’s all-time record scorer with 672 goals across 778 appearances.
Last year’s departure came as a huge shock at the time, with the Catalan giants’ financial situation meaning they could not agree on fresh terms that adhered to LaLiga’s salary cap rules. Messi has another year to run on his PSG deal, which will take him through to the age of 36, though that contract contains the option of a third season in Paris.
But Laporta, who was re-elected as president in March 2021, has opened the door for the club great to return to Catalonia one day.
“For Barca, he has possibly been the best player in history, the most efficient, only comparable to Johan Cruyff in the history of Barca,” Laporta told ESPN.
“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.”
Messi was directly involved in 937 goals for Barcelona, with his most prolific season coming in 2011-12 when scoring 73 goals in all competitions and assisting a further 28.
That is in stark contrast to the 11 goals and 14 assists managed in 34 games across all competitions during his first season at the Parc des Princes.
As the poster boy of the most successful period in Barca’s history, Laporta feels a sense of gratitude towards the superstar forward.
“Do I feel indebted to him? Yes. Morally, as president of Barca, I did what I had to do,” Laporta said. “But also as president of Barca and on a personal level, I think I owe him.”