La Liga president Javier Tebas has opened up on just how close Lionel Messi came close to re-signing for Barcelona last summer before he signed with Inter Miami.
Messi, 36, left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season when his contract expired, despite previously reaching an agreement on an extension before later reversing that decision. As a free agent, the World Cup winner received a ludicrously lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia ‘s Al-Hilal and a proposal from Barcelona to return home after spending two seasons away in Paris.
However, he turned down advances from both clubs to sign for Miami, a move Barcelona, bizarrely, announced days before the player did. Tebas has now shared how closely the Catalan club came to pulling off an unlikely deal.
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“Personally, because of Messi’s and Barça’s desire, I saw it as close,” he said, translated from a Spanish livestream on Kick. “When there is that affection, many economic issues are left aside.
“I saw it as possible. I saw it as close. I am sure that Messi would have liked to retire at Barça.”
Luis Suarez also spoke about his close friend Messi retiring at Barcelona earlier this year during his introductory press conference after signing for Inter Miami. “I never imagined it (reuniting with Messi in Miami) because I thought that Leo would finish his career at Barcelona, a club where he’s always been appreciated, a team where he achieved everything he wanted,” Suarez said.
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“We dreamed of retiring there. But then I went first. And the rest of them ( Jordi Alba, Messi and Sergio Busquets ) left behind me.” Such was the closeness of Messi’s return to Camp Nou that the club felt obliged to share a statement in the aftermath, prematurely announcing the news.
In Messi’s mind, however, a move back to Barcelona was never too close to reality, due to the bitter financial situation the club was left in. Though he was unable to move, he did admit he wanted to if the situation had allowed him to.
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He said: “I really wanted, I was very excited to be able to return [to Barcelona], but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had (last time), I did not want to be in the same situation again – waiting to see what was going to happen.
“I heard that they had to sell players or lower players’ salaries, and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that, nor take charge of obtaining something that had to do with all that.”