Lionel Messi may be attempting to carve out success in his new Paris Saint-Germain surroundings, but it would appear, unsurprisingly, that the club he starred for over the last decade and more is still very much in his heart.
And talk of a return to Barcelona, albeit in a new role, has already begun.
Messi reveals Barcelona return hopes
The Argentine superstar has spoken to Spanish daily SPORT and was asked if he would like to return to Barcelona one day. The answer was simple.
Yes. I always said I would love to be able to help the club in a way that I could be of use,” he explained, “to add something to the club.”
“I would love to be sporting secretary at some point,” he clarified about what value he thought he could bring.
That said, he also made it clear that nothing has yet been agreed with the Catalan giants.
“I don’t know if it will be at Barcelona or not or if it will be something else.
“If there is a chance [however], I would like to return and contribute again there because it’s the club that I love and I would love for them to continue doing well, to keep growing and to be one of the best in the world.”
Messi on his Barcelona past and future
The change of scenery from Barcelona to Paris and from the Camp Nou to the Parc des Princes feels like it must have been a big one, and Messi agreed.
“Yes, it was. A big change that, as I said at the time, was one I hadn’t imagined. Fortunately, I’m now settled in, the children are already at school, and we are more or less settled into our daily routine. We are happy.”
But did the six-time Ballon d’Or winner still have Barca on his mind four months after leaving?
“Yes. To this day, when I watch the matches, it gives me strong feelings or I remember things from matches at the Camp Nou, with the people..” he revealed.
“It’s reliving a little bit of everything that happened. Now, as I just said, I am more chilled, more assimilated with everything and, obviously, thinking about everything I have here and what is ahead at both a sporting and family level. We are also enjoying this city, which is wonderful, despite the weather. We were lucky to have some good weather too, with some rain and cold, but we are very happy.”
Talk turned to the end of Messi’s time as a Barça player and whether he would have stayed had new president Juan Laporta asked him to play for free, given the financial challenges they were having.
“The truth is that, as I explained during my departure, I did everything possible to stay. Never at any time was I asked to play for free. I was asked to reduce my salary by fifty per cent and I did it without question.
“We were in a position to help the club more. My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona. Nobody asked me to play for free but at the same time, I think the words of the president were misplaced. They hurt me because I don’t think he needed to say that, it’s like taking the ball out of your hands and not assuming the consequences, nor taking charge of things. This just creates doubts that I don’t think I deserve.”
When asked if he has since spoken to Laporta, the answer was nothing more than “no,” however talk about returning to Barcelona when his contract with PSG expires in two seasons, provoked rather the opposite response.
“I don’t know if I will return when my contract with PSG is up. What is almost confirmed, and is for sure, is that we are going to return to live in Barcelona and that our life will be there. That’s what my wife wants and what I want. I do not know if that will be when I finish my contract in Paris but we will go back to Barcelona to live.”
With 11 games already played, FC Barcelona sit in 9th place, nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad. But their former star doesn’t feel as pessimistic as many of the Blaugrana fans right now.
“They have a great squad, they play very well. I watch them whenever I can. Very good and key players have recently appeared, like Gavi. As a team, they are doing well. With the return of Kun and Dembélé, if he comes back well, they will be a great help to the team.”
And asked whether or not he keeps in touch with any of his former teammates…
“Yes, I often talk to Kun Agüero, who wasn’t a teammate but is a great friend. I also speak regularly with Busi [Sergio Busquets] and Jordi Alba.”
Clearly, some strong relationships had been built over such a long period at the Catalan club and Messi was quick to point out that those he was closest to supported him through his unexpected departure.
“It took them by surprise as it did me, but they were by my side and supported me throughout.”
MSN vs MNM and a seventh Ballon d’Or
What a question to ask: comparing the MSN (Messi-Suarez-Neymar) to the MNM (Messi-Neymar-Mbappe).
“You can’t compare them. They are different. Luis is another type of ‘9’, with different characteristics from Mbappé. Kylian has played the last few years on the outside. This season, and I don’t remember if also the previous one, he is playing more like a nine.”
“Luis is more of an old-fashioned striker, a centre forward, and period. Kylian is more of a player who comes into the moves, to be powerful and kill you with space. The truth is that it changes the way you are a centre forward. It’s difficult to compare. I was lucky to be in that Barça trident that was wonderful and I hope that with this one we can achieve the same.”
And with this new team does he think he can add to his record of six Ballons d’Or?
“To be honest, I don’t think about it. My greatest prize was what I was able to achieve with the national team [Copa America triumph]. After having fought and fought so hard for that achievement, it was as good as it gets for everything it cost.”
“If the Ballon d’Or comes, it would be extraordinary for what it would mean to win one more. The seventh would be crazy. If not, nothing changes. I have already achieved one of my great objectives. I’m very happy for what has come before and now let whatever happens happen.”
Courtesy: Diario AS