Barcelona are ‘hugely confident’ they will be in a position to announce the return of Lionel Messi soon.
The 35-year-old is at the center of a tug-of-war between former employers Barca and Saudi outfit Al Hilal, with his two-year stay at Paris Saint-Germain guaranteed to end this summer.
Al Hilal are confident they can convince Messi to move to Saudi Arabia – he recently made an unauthorized trip to the country as part of his duties as a tourism board ambassador – but the player is believed to prefer a return to Catalonia, where he spent the first 21 years of his career after moving from his native Argentina.
Messi’s representatives, including his father Jorge, have been offered a contract worth an estimated €400 million a year by Al Hilal, which would make him the highest-paid footballer of all time.
Barcelona won’t be able to match that financial package but are doing everything they can to clear the financial packages and make room for Messi on their wage bill – he won’t leave the club until 2021 as La Liga did not approve his new contract due to the club’s financial situation .
President Joan Laporta is confident the club will be able to make up the numbers and sources reiterated that Barcelona believe they will be in a position to announce Messi’s return soon.
One piece of the puzzle was snapped into place earlier this week when veteran midfielder Sergio Busquets confirmed he will leave the Camp Nou at the end of the season after winning 32 major honors with his boyhood club en route to more than 700 appearances.
Busquets was one of Barcelona’s highest earners, his early departure prompting La Liga president Javier Tebas to tell COPE of Messi’s potential return: “Busquets’ departure is the start of a comeback for Messi.
“But they still have many meters to go to reach the end. I’m not the one to give them the green light, it will be their economic control.”
Barcelona are ready to listen to offers for young winger Ansu Fatih, while also considering bids for Ousmane Dembele, Raphinh and Ferran Torres – players who all earn significant wages at the club and whose minutes could be marginalized by Messi’s return. .
Others are also likely to leave to allow Barcelona to pursue other long-term targets, including Manchester City pair Ilkay Gundogan, who is available on a free transfer this summer, and Bernardo Silva.