Lionel Messi was at his usual best when Argentina brushed aside Croatia 3-0 to book a place in the FIFA World Cup final for the sixth time.
The attacker notably scored the all-important opener by converting a spot-kick while producing a mesmerising assist for Julian Alvarez’s second goal of the night. Messi’s performances have not gotten unnoticed by Barcelona either, and there are many fans who are still longing for his return to Camp Nou.
The player has been linked with a potential return to Barça in recent months, especially with his current contract at Paris Saint-Germain expiring at the end of the season.
According to Guillem Balague, Barcelona are aware of the possibility to bring Messi back to Camp Nou next season, and it is Xavi Hernandez, in particular, who is determined to sign the Argentine international at the end of the season.
Xavi is the only coach at Barcelona in many years to not have the privilege of managing Messi. The Spaniard was appointed as the coach at the end of 2021, whereas Messi left the club in the summer of 2021, joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Having played with Messi for years at Barça, Xavi believes the 35-year-old could be the final piece of the jigsaw for his Barcelona side that have played extremely well in domestic competitions this season.
Even though the Catalans were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League group stages, the return of Messi, coupled with the presence of talented attackers such as Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha could indeed add a new dimension to the Barça frontline.
However, the road is long and difficult for the Blaugrana in their quest to sign Messi next summer. The club are dealing with Financial Fair Play regulations and with no economic levers in 2023, they may find it difficult to make any big moves.
Moreover, the fractured relationship between Messi and Barcelona president Joan Laporta would also be a hindrance while PSG are hoping to tie him down to a new two-year contract, making the Argentina captain’s return unlikely at this point.