With Lionel Messi's contract with PSG ending on June 30, there is much speculation surrounding his future in the football world. Now, everything points toward a departure from PSG and a return to Barcelona. Or does it?
Although his statistics with PSG for the 2022-23 season are still fantastic (he leagues the French Ligue 1 with 15 assists while he has scored 15 goals, the ninth-most), Messi's lack of impact during big games, particularly in the Champions League, has been a cause for concern.
That, along with an absolute lack of interest in league games of late, is forcing PSG into thinking they might be better off letting Messi go for free this summer instead of extending their partnership.
Given his high salary and inconsistent performances, questions have been raised and the answer seems to be so obvious (yes, accept it, he must go because this Messi is not the Messi of old) yet PSG might not have arrived at a final decision.
With the season drawing to a close, many are left in limbo as to what Messi's next move will be, including members of PSG and those from other organizations such as La Liga, the Premier League and Saudi Arabia (both having clubs interested in the player), and FC Barcelona in particular.
A return to FC Barcelona seems to be the most likely option if he were to leave PSG, but the feasibility of such a move is becoming increasingly difficult due to the club's financial situation and their problems with the Financial Fair Play rules.
According to reports, Barcelona is attempting to work out an economically viable plan for La Liga to allow them to land Messi and repatriate their former legend from France within the framework of Spanish Financial Fair Play.
Barcelona dream of Lionel Messi, but they are hesitant of pulling off such a move
However, some members of the Barcelona board are not convinced this is the right move for the club to make considering their current position (bad on the competitive side, worse on the financial front).
La Liga has stipulated the obligation to free up equity as soon as possible if Barcelona want to sign Messi, which means the club must drastically lower its expenses and consider selling as much as possible during the off-season if they don't want to face sanctions.
With a reported deficit of €200m to be covered, the return of Lionel Messi to Barcelona looks very complex unless Messi plays for peanuts (not happening).
According to journalist Guillem Balague, "Messi may be ready to make an effort to return," although Barcelona "have other priorities."
The Spanish journalist, who has been very close to Messi throughout his career, also revealed that "no proposal has been made to Messi yet," adding that "Barcelona must find solutions to register several players for next season," on top of Messi, of course.
La Liga's president Javier Tebas wants Lionel Messi back in Spain
However, other reports suggest that the financial plan presented by Barcelona to La Liga has been favorably received and that the president of the competition, Javier Tebas, would love to have Messi representing his competition again.
The goal for Barcelona, at this stage, is to sell as much as possible in order to open room for the return of Messi. There is optimism in the club, as it's been reported that Messi has already informed PSG that he will not extend his contract in Paris and that his future two-year contract is waiting for him in Barcelona.
According to Le Parisien, PSG would pass on extending Messi for two years, opting instead (if anything) to give him a one-year deal and rework the contract once more after that if Messi performs at a good level.
Whether Messi continues at PSG or return to Barcelona remains to be seen, but it feels like we already have our yearly summer transfer-soap opera served and that it's going to drag for a while.