Xavi, Messi in regular contact over Barca return

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said he told club president Joan Laporta that he would like to have Lionel Messi back next season and said he speaks to his former teammate regularly about a possible return to the team.

Messi, 35, left Barca two years ago at the end of his contract, but he will be available as a free agent this summer when his deal with Paris Saint-Germain expires.

“In terms of what I am in charge of, the football side of things, there are no doubts that if Messi comes back he is going to help us,” Xavi told Diario Sport when asked if Messi returning would make sense.

“I have made that clear to the president. I don’t have a single doubt about that because he is still a difference-maker, he is still hungry, he’s a winner and he is a leader.

“We don’t have a team with the talent of 2010, for example, and what does Messi bring? He brings talent. He is capable of providing the final pass, taking free kicks, scoring goals. He is a differential player in the final third.

“For that reason, and for how I want to play, for me there is no doubt that he would add a lot. But it depends on him.”

Xavi said that despite talking to Messi, whom he played alongside during a trophy-laden spell at Barcelona, he does not know what his former teammate is thinking regarding his future at the moment.

ESPN previously revealed he will leave PSG when his contract expires in June, while, in addition to Barca, there is also interest from Saudi Arabia and Major League Soccer.

“It’s difficult to put yourself in the shoes of a player who has won it all,” Xavi added. “I don’t know what doubts he might have about coming back this summer.

“Maybe [he could have doubts] because it’s another project now and because important players who he had a good relationship with, like Busi [Sergio Busquets] and Jordi [Alba], are leaving. I don’t know, I am not in his head.

“With the relationship I have with him, I think I have been very clear. The door is open for him here. It depends on his personal decision.

“It would be the same idea and model of play with Messi. Leo could play in various positions: as a false nine, a winger, a midfielder, even at the base [of the midfield] arriving to make the final pass.

“He has almost become a midfielder, he has that capacity. Maybe he has lost that explosiveness [he had when he was younger], but we saw an extraordinary Messi at the World Cup. I still think he has years ahead of him at the top level.”

In addition to Messi having to agree to come back, Barca also have financial hurdles to clear to be able to re-sign a player they could not afford to keep when he was forced to leave in 2021.

To be able to register new contracts already handed to current first-team players and make signings ahead of next season while complying with LaLiga’s financial fair play rules, they need to make savings of over €150 million first.

However, with the departures of Busquets and Alba, two of the biggest earners at the club, they have started to make cutbacks on wages, while they will also look to bring in transfer fees for players in the squad who have not featured regularly this season.

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