Monday, May 20News That Matters

Lionel Messi explains why he rejected Barcelona for Inter Miami despite wanting return

Lionel Messi has confirmed his decision to head to MLS club Inter Miami and not a return to Barcelona after leaving French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

After being released by PSG, he was strongly linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League. And Cristiano Ronaldo completed a move to Saudi club Al-Nassr in January and is earning around £173million per year.

That deal was the highest wage in football, which includes image rights and commercial commitments. Al-Nassr’s Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal were preparing an offer for his Argentine rival, but that has failed to materialise.

Messi’s former teammate Xavi, who is now in charge of Barcelona, made no secret of his desire to resign the suoerstar for the 2023/24 campaign.

After a meeting between Jorge Messi and Barca President Joan Laporta on Tuesday, there were rumours that Messi would again make his mark at the Spanish club where he scored a remarkable 672 goals over a 17-year stint.

He previously left against his will in 2021, amid the financial problems that still plague the Catalan club.

In April, Barcelona transfer chiefs confirmed contact had been made with Messi regarding a return to the Camp Nou. Xavi and a couple of Barca players had spoken of their hope of a return for the Argentine this summer, but that will not be happening.

On Wednesday, Messi did an interview in Paris with Catalan newspapers Mundo Deportivo and Sport, in which he revealed his decision to move MLS.

“The truth is that I had offers from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my only idea was to go to Barcelona,” Messi explained.

“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barça, it was time to go to the United States League to live football differently.

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“I want to enjoy more the day to day. Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to want to win and to always do things well. But more calmly.”

Messi added, of a return to Barcelona being possible: “I wanted to return to Barcelona but I did not want to leave my future hanging in the hands of other people.

“I heard that they [Barca] had to sell players or lower players’ salaries and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that.”

The Argentine forward said: “Hopefully, I don’t know when or what or when but hopefully one day I can still contribute something at Barcelona and help because it’s a club that I love as I always said.

“I appreciate the love I had from people during my career and I would like to be there again, yes”

Of signing for Inter Miami ahead of Al-Hilal, he added: “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. The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money.”

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