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Are the stars aligning for a Messi return to Barcelona?

Before the 2022 World Cup, the idea of Lionel Messi extending his contract with French multi-champion PSG seemed a safe bet. Back from Qatar, however, that certainty has started to crumble and the leading narrative around the player's future is pointing to a sensational return to Barcelona. 

Is Messi returning to Barcelona?

Of course, there are a lot of rumors going around, but the blaugranas fans are feeling optimistic after the club's vice-president Rafa Yuste and coach Xavi spoke on Friday about how much they wish for Messi's return to the team. 

Yuste even admitted – on the record! – they are in contact with Messi's inner circle.

"I still feel gutted about Leo not being able to stay in Barcelona [he left in 2021]. If we are talking about La Masia and our youth teams, we are talking about Messi. So, of course, I would love to see him coming back. And more because of all he represents at a sporting, social and financial level," Yuste said. "And we are in contact with them."

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Xavi is also enthusiastic about having his former teammate back home, although he is more moderate facing the mics. 

"This is not the time to talk about Leo's return. It would not be easy to make it happen, but I will be the first to do everything possible to see him coming back," he admitted. 

Barcelona's coach confessed he often speaks with Messi and concluded his speech by saying he wishes his return to help the team because "he is the best player in the world and the best player in history."

So what's impeding the reunion?

Yuste wants "this mutual love story ends with Messi at Barça," but money is today's biggest hurdle in making that dream come true. 

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Messi ends his contract with PSG at the end of June, so there is no need for a transfer fee to catch him if he decides to part ways with the French club. However, his high salary expectations could end up being a pain in the ass regarding the tight financial fair play rules within LaLiga. 

Barcelona is already in trouble trying to comply with the books, and rumors say they need to free up to 200 million euros in salaries to fit Messi's demands for the 2023-24 season.

What about MLS?

And then you have other suitors in the mix. Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal is trying to lure the Argentine to relive Messi's rivalry against Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Al-Nassr. 

Major League Soccer is also studying innovative ways to bring him on board. The last idea? Every team in the league should help pay Messi's salary in the club he decides to play for, expecting the investment to turn into profit thanks to the better TV deals the league should sign if he is finally convinced. 

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