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Lionel Messi’s Return to Barcelona Can’t Be Ruled Out, President Joan Laporta Says

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta isn’t so sure Lionel Messi has played his last game in a Barca shirt.

The club officially welcomed Dani Alves back Wednesday after he had left in 2016. Using the Brazilian as an example, Laporta entertained the idea of Messi and fellow legend Andres Iniesta returning as well, per ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens:

“I can’t rule it out. … Leo and Andres are two spectacular players. I can’t predict the future. They are Barca greats and who made this club what it is and they will always be present, but they’re players with contracts with other clubs. That must be respected, but in life you never know.”

Messi turned 34 in June. While his physical skills have diminished slightly, 70 or 80 percent of peak Messi is still better than a lot of players around the world.

In his first season with Paris Saint-Germain, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is still waiting on his first Ligue 1 goal, but he has scored three times in three Champions League appearances.

Perhaps there’s a point a few years down the road where Barcelona’s finances will accommodate re-signing Messi. Laporta referenced the “financial sacrifice” required by Alves to secure his signature.

And in general, the idea of Messi once again representing the Blaugrana isn’t any more outlandish than Cristiano Ronaldo re-signing with Manchester United.

However, Ronaldo’s reunion with the Red Devils provides one reason why this might be a bad idea—assuming it becomes anything more than an unlikely theoretical.

The Portuguese has scored some critical goals for United, but he has also presented a general tactical problem for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. One can’t help but wonder whether his late-game heroics wouldn’t be required in the first place if Solskjaer had a more balanced squad.

And that’s to say nothing of how Ronaldo has somewhat overshadowed Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood.

If Barcelona were to bring Messi back, then whoever is the manager at that time might be faced with a dilemma. Accommodating the role he would presumably command based on his profile may not be the best route to get Barca back to the pinnacle of European football.

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