Not so long ago, most people imagined Lionel Messi would spend the entirety of his career at Barcelona, so his move to PSG in the summer of 2021 sent shockwaves through the world of football.
It was a move he quite clearly didn’t want to make, with the Argentine in tears throughout his farewell press conference.
Given he’s arguably the greatest player in the world and of all time, and was certainly their star man at the time, it goes without saying Barcelona didn’t want to lose him either.
So, just why did the player and the club go their separate ways?
Simply put, Messi left Barcelona because the club didn’t have enough of a wage budget left to offer him a new contract.
He entered the summer of 2021 as a free agent, but it was widely believed it would only be a matter of time before he signed a new deal with the La Liga side. However, that changed when the club’s financial problems emerged.
Under La Liga rules, clubs can only spend a certain amount of their revenue on signing players and paying their salaries, and Barça’s revenue had dropped significantly as a result of the global pandemic.
What’s more, they hadn’t exactly been financially responsible on the transfer market in recent times, spending enormous amounts of money on players and offering huge wages to both new and existing squad members.
As a result, they entered the summer window of 2021 needing to reduce their wage bill by a considerable amount to ensure they could offer Messi a new deal without exceeding the league’s salary cap.
They ultimately weren’t able to do so, even with the player reportedly willing to half his salary, and he was forced to leave as a result, with PSG the ones to take advantage of the situation.
Almost two years on, there’s talk that Messi will make a sensational return to his former club, and it’s beginning to look like it could actually happen.
What was ultimately a marriage of convenience between himself and PSG hasn’t proved to be a particularly happy one, with the player unable to bring Champions League glory to the club as hoped and some fans unhappy with his attitude, even booing him recently.
It’s far from certain that he’ll renew his contract at the end of this season, and if he doesn’t, Barcelona seems the most likely destination.
The chances of a return are increasing, sources have told 90min, with both Messi and Xavi’s club extremely keen on reuniting.
Messi also has offers on the table from Saudi Arabian outfit Al Ittihad and David Beckham-owned Inter Miami, but a return to Camp Nou looks the most likely scenario.