FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez has opened the door to his former teammate Lionel Messi potentially returning to the club this summer.
The Catalan and the Argentine enjoyed the Blaugrana’s successful era side by side and shared a locker room from the early 2000s to the mid-2010s before Xavi headed to Qatar in semi-retirement in 2015.
In 2021, Messi walked to Paris Saint Germain on a free transfer. Amid reports that he has turned down the option of extending his two-year contract by an extra season, however, it is said that Messi’s father and agent Jorge Messi met with Barca president Joan Laporta to sound out a potential return to Camp Nou in 2023/2024.
Asked about the prospect in his pre-match press conference, ahead of Barca’s Europa League playoff second leg tie against Manchester United on Thursday, Xavi remarked: “I have nothing to add. I said at the time that this is his home and that the doors are open to him, so I can’t say any more.”
Xavi described Messi as a friend with whom he is in “permanent contact”.
“With the president we talk about a lot of things and nothing more. From there it will depend a lot on him, on what he wants to do in the future, on what fits for the club…. But it’s clear that this is his home, there’s no doubt about it,” Xavi explained.
When reminded that Messi would be 36 by the time he becomes a free agent again on June 30, Xavi stressed: “The best footballer in the world and in history would always fit in.”
Xavi will of course always show respect to his ex-teammate, but it remains to be seen how his side would be built around Messi once more if he did indeed return.
In the current tactical system that has Barca on track to win a first La Liga title since Messi was captain in 2019, Xavi fields four midfielders with Gavi or Pedri a false left winger.
Messi may have to play in a central midfield attacking role, and leave the pressing to the likes of Gavi and Frenkie de Jong.