After Lionel Messi’s decision to move to Inter Miami was confirmed by all tier one sources, the legendary Argentine has come forth with an interview with SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, talking about all that went down in the last couple of months.
“I will not return to Barcelona, I will join Inter Miami,” he confirmed, first and foremost.
“I made the decision to go to Miami. I still haven’t closed it 100% and there are some things missing, but well, we decided to continue the journey there.”
Messi, clearly in favour of a Barcelona return over Miami, confirmed that he did have offers from other European clubs.
“The truth is that I had offers from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my idea was only to go to Barcelona.”
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barça, I had to go to the American league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day to day.”
He continued to talk about the World Cup, saying that the competition in the middle of the season made it very difficult for teams, even though he ended up lifting the trophy with Argentina.
“In the middle of the season there was the World Cup and I think the World Cup affected all the teams in general, it affected the season a little bit, with such an important competition in the middle for the first time.”
PSG tenure and an uncomfortable two years
Messi was at PSG for two seasons. While everyone knows his time at the club did not go particularly well for him in terms of his output, the 35-year-old did not have a great time off the pitch, either, with constant controversy surrounding him.
“The truth is that the first year at PSG was very difficult, as I said on some occasions, for different reasons. The second year, the first six months I felt very, very good, very comfortable in the club, in the city, with my family.”
“Did I miss Barça when I was at PSG? Yes, obviously I did. I was just saying, the truth is that the first year here was very difficult for me, after the departure, how it was and everything.”
Messi opened up about his initial time in Paris, and how difficult it was for him and his family to settle outside of Barcelona for the first time.
“When I left in 2021, I had to come here to Paris to stay in a hotel for a long time with my family, with my children going to school and still being in the hotel… I didn’t want my future in the air again.”
“I’m also in a moment where I want to get out of the spotlight a bit, to think more about my family. As I was saying just now, I spent two years with my family in such a bad way that I didn’t enjoy it at Paris.”
“In Barcelona I went to look for my children, in Paris I did it much less, I shared fewer activities with them. That was also the reason for my decision, to reconnect with my family, with my children, and to enjoy the day to day,” Leo added.
“There were many things that bothered me, when they talked a lot about my family, when they said that my son had had a bad time in Paris. My children don’t want to leave here because they are doing so well.”
Barcelona return rumours, talks with Xavi
“Barça winning La Liga this season? Yes, I was excited, I followed it all year and I wanted Barça to win like every Barcelona fan,” Messi said about Barcelona’s La Liga title, their first after three seasons.
He also then shared his thoughts about potentially returning to Barcelona, and all that followed when the negotiations were taking place, starting with his communication with Xavi.
“I talk to Xavi a lot, also about some games, after the game, about situations… The truth is that we’ve been talking a lot since became a coach. And I followed him, obviously.”
“With president Laporta I spoke very little, once or twice at the most. I do have a lot of communication with Xavi.”
“I really wanted to return to Barça but after having lived through what I went through and the departure I had, I didn’t want to be in the same situation again… Waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in someone else’s hands,” Leo said vulnerably.
La Liga had given their green light for Barcelona’s financial feasibility plan for the summer, which included Messi’s return. However, it was obvious that a few key details were missing to push for the transfer.
“I wanted to make my own decision, thinking about myself, my family. Although I heard that La Liga had accepted everything and that everything was fine for me to return, there were still a lot of other things that needed to happen.”
Further, he expressed how he did not want to put Barcelona, or his former teammates in a position where they would have to be sold or reduce their salary just to include him in the team.
“I heard that Barça had to sell players or lower the salaries of players and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that, or be in charge of getting anything to do with all that.”
“I was already blamed for a lot of things that weren’t true in my career at Barcelona and I was a bit tired of it, I didn’t want to go through all that… What were they going to say about me if they had to sell players or things like that for my signing.”
Messi’s departure in 2021 was rather shocking, as it came after months of reports confirming that the player would end up signing a renewal with the club. At the time, too, La Liga had told him there would be no issues.
“The time I had to leave, in 2021, La Liga had also agreed to register me and in the end it was not possible. Well, I was afraid that the same thing would happen again.”
My family was very excited about everything we heard about returning to Barça, but at the same time we weren’t that excited because the reality was that we still didn’t know what would happen, but obviously we were very keen to return.”
Xavi took the media a few times to say that Messi’s return to Barcelona solely depends on the player, however, he confirmed that at the end, there were multiple things missing.
“Barça saying that everything depended on me? I listened to everything that was said. La Liga had given the OK but it’s not real that the decision is mine because there are many things missing and I don’t want to go through what I’ve already been through.”
Recently, Barcelona gave emotional farewells to Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, both of whom are leaving the club after legendary tenures. Messi, unfortunately, did not receive that ‘goodbye’ from the club.
“I’d have loved a farewell like Iniesta, Busquets, Jordi Alba, Xavi… This is why I was very happy to hear the chants with my name by Barça fans at the Spotify Camp Nou.”
“I would have liked to leave Barça in a good way, to have been able to say goodbye to the fans in a good way.”
He continued to talk about the fans, who chanted his name in the 10th minute in multiple matches, including the last home game of the season.
“It was a strange feeling to hear Barça fans chanting my name at the Spotify Camp Nou. I was very happy, but then… I wasn’t there.”
There was a lot of talk about Messi reducing his salary, with some fans even suggesting that he should play for free. As absurd as that is, for him, it was never a problem.
“Playing for Barça for free? The truth is that the economic aspect was never a problem. We never even got to talk about the contract. A proposal was passed over, but never a formal offer, because there was nothing yet and we didn’t know if it was going to happen or not.”
“If it had been a matter of money, I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or somewhere else. It seemed like a lot of money and the truth is that my decision was made for other reasons and not for money…”
Controversially enough, Messi’s departure followed a lot of lot of signings across the two seasons, including Ferran Torres for €55 million, Robert Lewandowski for €55 million, Raphinha, Jules Kounde for €60 million-plus each. The player was asked about how he felt about that.
“At the beginning I was at a time when I was very hurt by my departure and the way it happened. At that moment, I was a bit angry that I couldn’t stay and then the club could make signings.”
“People inside Barça who didn’t want me to come back? I don’t know. But surely there are people who didn’t want me to come back. Like many people I know who want me to come back and they said so and made it public.”
All said and done, it seems Messi is open to returning to Barcelona in the near future, in another position. He wants to say ‘goodbye’ to the fans, in his own words.
“On the one hand, there was an ugly feeling with Barça. I had been the bad guy in the movie and I didn’t like that either because it hadn’t been like that. That’s why I would like to have a real farewell at some point…”
“There were so many years together with the Barça fans, and I would like to say goodbye in the way I feel.”
He also added, “Returning to Barça one day as a player or in another position? Yes, obviously I would like to be close to the club. I’m going to live in Barcelona in the future. It’s one of the things we’re very clear about with my wife and my children.”