A file photo of Lionel Messi of Barcelona FC celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League in 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Image: Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Germ of a reunion Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Daniel Alves of FC Barcelona posing with the Cup after winning the UEFA Champions League final match between Barcelona and Juventus on June 6, 2015, at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, Germany. Image: VI Images via Getty Images
After leaving French club Paris Saint-Germain, where he played two seasons, Lionel Messi’s options included a return to the club with which he had spent his entire professional career since 2004, before leaving in 2021. With FC Barcelona, Messi won a record 34 trophies—10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Reys and four UEFA Champions leagues.
Hope in the air Joan Laporta, President of FC Barcelona. Image: Marc Graupera Alomá / AFP7 via Getty Images
Barca and Messi fans were hoping for a miracle; and earlier in the week when Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, the go-to person for football transfer news, tweeted that Messi’s dad Jorge Messi and Barcelona President Joan Laporta were in talks, there was hope in the air. “Leo wants to return to Barcelona and I’d love to see him back to Barca,” Romano tweeted, quoting Messi Sr. “Barca move is an option for sure,” added Jorge.Also read: 'We can dream again': The song that marked Argentina's World Cup campaign
Hopes dashed Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham and general view of DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL, US. Images: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images and Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY SportsImage
That sliver of expectation quickly fizzled out when Jorge informed Laporta of Messi’s decision to join Inter Miami, the American Major League Soccer team co-owned by David Beckham. Messi explained to Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo the reason for declining the Barca offer.
Messi's EmpathyArgentina's Lionel Messi with his father Jorge Messi. Images: Robert Michael/dpa via Getty Images and Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
“Although I heard that LaLiga had accepted everything and that everything was fine for me to come back, there were still many other things that needed to happen. I heard that Barcelona had to sell players or reduce players’ salaries, and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that or take responsibility for something related to all of that. I have already been accused of many things that were not true in my career at Barcelona, and I was already a bit tired; I didn’t want to go through all of that. Although I would have loved to, it couldn’t be done,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo. Also read: Lionel Messi: One of football's top earners at $110 million
It wasn't about the moneyFans outside Al-Hilal Football Club, Riyadh, Saudia Arabia. Image: Ahmed Yosri / Reuters
"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," Messi reportedly said. "The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere, and not because of money."
Messi turned down a huge offer—reportedly of over $500 million—from Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia to make his move across the Atlantic a reality.
Solace for Barca fansLionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou on May 6, 2018, in Barcelona, Spain. Image: David Ramos/Getty Images
As reported on the FC Barcelona website, Laporta and Jorge Messi agreed to work together to “promote a proper tribute from Barça fans to honour a footballer who has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barça.”