‘It’s not too late’: Lionel Messi tipped for return to Barcelona

Lionel Messi has been tipped to return to Barcelona next summer

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Lionel Messi has been tipped to return to Barcelona next summer, with ex-teammate Carles Puyol suggesting “it’s not too late” for the superstar to rejoin the Catalan club from PSG.

Messi reluctantly left Barca last summer due to the financial peril engulfing the club and opted to join the likes of former Camp Nou teammate Neymar and World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe in Paris on a mega-deal.

The Argentine struggled somewhat during his first year in France, scoring just 11 goals in 34 appearances and failing to help his new side reach their stated goal of finally winning the Champions League, but the early signs this term are promising – with his six assists the joint-highest of any player in Europe’s top five leagues and three goals to boot.

However, his PSG contract runs out next summer and, given the emotional way he left Barca last year, Puyol believes a Camp Nou comeback could be on the cards.

“It’s not too late for a Leo Messi return,” Puyol said, via Goal. “He has one year left in his contract and many things can happen in that time. It depends on [Barcelona boss] Xavi and Leo, but he will always be welcomed at Barca.”

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Puyol played alongside Messi for a decade, during which time the Catalan club dominated European football, although the last couple of years have been a little more fraught.

Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol played together for ten years at Barcelona

Barca have staked their financial future on significant progress in the Champions League and added the likes of Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Raphinha, Marcos Alonso and Hector Bellerin to the squad this summer.

Perhaps their biggest signing, and arguable Messi replacement, was Robert Lewandowski on a free transfer from Bayern Munich. And Puyol is convinced the striker can finally win the Ballon d’Or after controversially missing out to Messi in 2021 despite a stunning record of 48 goals from 40 games while at Bayern.

“He is one of the best strikers in the world, and not only because of the goal, which he has,” Puyol said of the Polish superstar. “He unloads, he knows how to hold the ball, he knows how to combine…hopefully he can win the Ballon d’Or.

“He deserves it for the good years he has had and now he has to win it at Barca. It will be a good sign.”

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