Barcelona vice-president of economics Eduard Romeu has confirmed that the club will not be able to financially afford to re-sign Lionel Messi, except if the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is available as a free agent.
Messi switched to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021 and joined as a free agent in one of the biggest football transfers of all time.
He had already agreed to extend his contract, despite famously asking to leave the club in 2020, but the club’s financial situation meant they didn’t have the salary room to register it with La Liga.
The 35-year-old recently admitted that he struggled in his first year in Paris but now ‘feels different’, which is showing in his much improved form.
In the last international fixture of this break, Lionel Messi scored two goals and was twice a victim of fans running on the pitch as Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 35 matches over three years by beating Jamaica 3-0 on Tuesday night in its next-to-last World Cup warmup match.
“You have to enjoy Messi,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “No matter your country, everyone does. I’m his coach, but I would buy a ticket to see him.”
Yet Barça remain adamant to reunite with their club legend. Club president Joan Laporta boldly stated during summer the Messi chapter ‘isn’t over’ at Barcelona and reports in Spain last weekend hinted that the club has started exploring avenues to try and make that dream a reality.
Romeu, speaking on Radio Catalunya, has shed more light on the story.
Speaking on the possibility of Messi returning to Barcelona, he said: “If he came back, it would be free, so it would be viable within my area, although I don’t have it in the budget,”
“He is an icon of the club, this will always be his home, but it will be a technical decision.”
Messi is under contract at PSG until the end of the season, although the terms of the deal does include an option for it to be extended by another 12 months to 2024.
Romeu added that although Barcelona’s finances are now in far better condition than they were, there is still a need for ‘austerity’ and it could be another two years before things return to a more normal level for the club.
“We have saved Barça, but we still haven’t resolved it,” he explained. “We don’t have it healthy; it involves a lot of austerity, a lot of rigour and there is a lot of work to do. In the 2024/25 season we will be at the level that corresponds to us.”