Analysis: Lionel Messi is Barcelona’s greatest ever player, but is a second spell really worth it?

There is little doubt among Barcelona fans that Lionel Messi is the club’s greatest ever player. Among other ridiculous statistics, the Argentine is Barca’s leading appearance maker and top goal scorer in history, and he helped them with a plethora of trophies during his time in Catalonia.

There was much devastation when it was confirmed that Barcelona could not re-sign Messi in 2021, following the expiration of his contract. He joined PSG later that summer, where he remains until today.

However, Messi’s time at the French champions could be coming to an end, with his contract expiring at the end of this season. A renewal does not currently look likely, meaning that he could be on the move for the second time in three years.

Barcelona have held slim hopes of bringing Messi back to the club for a triumphant second spell, and according to Gerard Romero (via Fichajes), the club’s legal services are working on the possibility of bringing him back to the Camp Nou.

However, it will be far from straightforward, largely due to the club’s precarious financial situation. La Liga state that Barcelona must reduce their wage bill by at least €200m ahead of next season. If Messi was to return, he’d take up a considerable wage, which would mean that the club would have to sell more players that hoped in order to fit his wages in.

Messi’s hypothetical return could have a massive financial impact, specifically when it comes to renewing contracts of current first team players. Gavi’s first team status has been annulled in recent days, and Barcelona must figure out a way to re-register the teenager ahead of next season. If Messi returns, it’d be very, very difficult to do this.

While Messi is undoubtedly still one of the best players in world football, he’s now 35. He’s not getting any younger, and he’d likely be playing for another three to four years at most, and he would be declining during that time.

From a Barcelona perspective, it doesn’t make financial sense to sign him over securing the new contract of the likes of Gavi, Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele, who are the present and future of the club.

The phrase that comes to mind in this situation is “let sleeping dogs lie”. Messi was been a legend for Barcelona, and he will always be a hero for Cules. However, he is not worth crippling the club’s finances over, especially at his age now. Hold a tribute in his honour for his years of service to Barca, but forget about signing him.

The only way that it’d make sense for Barcelona to sign Messi is if they get him to agree to a ridiculously meagre wage. Then, it would be a good idea, but considering he’s one of the top earners in world football at the moment, it’d be a huge wage drop.

Much would depend on how much Messi wants to return to the club, but Barca have to stick to their guns, because they can’t risk losing the likes of Gavi and Araujo just to sign Messi for a season or two.

Considering Barcelona already have Dembele, Raphinha and Ferran Torres, it wouldn’t make too much sense to sign Messi anyway in that regard. Even as a striker, you’d need to drop either him or Robert Lewandowski, and you’d then have to forget about a move for Vitor Roque for the time being.

Barcelona will be desperate to improve their finances over the next couple of years, but they’d be shooting themselves in the foot if they were to sign Messi (on a regular wage). As much as fans and officials would love him to return, I’m sure they’d rather the club was sustainable for years to come.

Tags Barcelona Lionel Messi Paris Saint-Germain
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