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Lionel Messi admitted a reunion with Barcelona was his preferred choice as he weighed his available options this summer.
The 35-year-old’s move to MLS side Inter Miami was confirmed Wednesday, though the specifics of his deal have yet to be resolved.
Addressing his decision to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, he said he was hopeful of returning to Barcelona, but the lingering uncertainty hanging over the club took that off the table. La Liga president Javier Tebas made it clear in March that Barça needed to generate €200 million in revenue and/or cost savings to accommodate new signings.
Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano
Messi: “I heard reports of La Liga giving the green light but the truth is that many, really many things were still missing in order to make my return to Barça happen”, told MD 🔵🔴 <a href=” didn’t want to be responsible for them to sell players or reduce salaries. I was tired”. <a href=”https://t.co/krdebk5t1C”>pic.twitter.com/krdebk5t1C</a>
Barcelona issued a statement in the wake of Wednesday’s news that included a thinly veiled shot at MLS:
“On Monday, June 5, Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, informed Club President Joan Laporta of the player’s decision to join Inter Miami, despite having been presented with a proposal from Barça, in consideration of the desire of both FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi for him to once again wear blaugrana.
“President Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.
Messi said selecting Inter Miami wasn’t driven purely by finances because he would’ve signed with the Saudi Pro League otherwise.
Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano
Messi: “If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me”, told MD. 🚨🇦🇷 <a href=” truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money”. <a href=”https://t.co/bX2nDye4Ov”>pic.twitter.com/bX2nDye4Ov</a>
The Telegraph reported in May that the Saudi Arabian government was prepared to pay Messi £320 million annually to sign for the Saudi league. He’s already a tourism ambassador for the country.
As Messi laid out, however, there were a number of factors at play before he came to a conclusion.
Messi’s comments about Barcelona aren’t all that surprising since he didn’t seem to want to leave in the first place. Even though he had signaled his frustration with the club a year earlier, Barça’s dire finances were the impetus behind his departure in 2021.
It makes sense the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would want the opportunity to have a second chance and do his Camp Nou farewell right.
French newspaper L’Equipe (via Samuel Draper of the Daily Mail) reported there was a belief Barcelona and Inter Miami were working toward a joint agreement that would’ve seen Messi loaned to the Catalan giant for 18 months.
Maybe that can happen down the road. David Beckham went on to play for AC Milan on loan while under contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, and he finished his career at Paris Saint-Germain.
For now, it appears Messi’s focus is fully on MLS and Inter Miami.