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Xavi on Messi: I’m told it’s under control

Lionel Messi against Getafe / ERIC ALONSO/GETTY IMAGES
Lionel Messi against Getafe / ERIC ALONSO/GETTY IMAGES

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández spoke about a potential return for Lionel Messi.

A lot of reports have surfaced regarding the potential return of Lionel Messi.

The Argentine joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent in August 2021, and with his contract running out this summer, his departure from the French outfit looks all the more likely.

Xavi has previously hinted at this, namely in an interview with TV3 Catalunya three days ago, where he said the Argentine’s return ‘depends on 99%’ on the player.

“Our fans began chanting Leo Messi’s name at every game. I like the feeling, but trust me, the comeback of Messi absolutely depends, I’d say 99% on him, he told TV3.

“I watched a lot of Argentina and Paris-Saint Germain’s games, but at the end we have to consider how he’d be incorporated from a footballing perspective. I have no doubts he’d be able to come [to Barcelona] and help us a lot but it [his future] absolutely depends on him,” Xavi continued.

He has since had an interview with Mundo Deportivo, where he spoke out about the situation in further detail, and clarified his 99 percent comment. The reason for clarification lies in LaLiga’s administration making it difficult for Barcelona to sign him, seeing as the club need their contingency plan approved.

According to reports, the league has taken a long time to do this, further hindering the Argentine’s arrival, seeing as the former Barcelona man is running out of patience, having offers from elsewhere.

Barcelona’s head coach spoke in great length with Mundo Deportivo, voicing his opinion on Messi’s situation, where he would play for the Catalan side if the move materialized, and much more.

On the complexity of the situation given the player wants to make his decision soon:

“No, for me, nothing has changed. I’ve said it many times, the doors here are open for him, I’m the coach, and I know that he will help us a lot if he does arrive. But in the end, I think we [everyone] have to give him some space [to think].He [Messi] ended his season there, has a lot of respect for Paris Saint-Germain, wants to end [his time there] in the best way possible, see out his contract, and after that, he’s earned all the right in the world to decide where he wants to go, where he wants to end his career.”

“I think he has the footballing qualities to keep going at the highest level, and if he comes to Barça, that’s what the we and all culers want the most, especially the coach [myself]. The doors are open, and I’m convinced he’s going to do well.”

On saying it depends 99% on Leo, and whether that puts Messi under a bit of pressure seeing as Barça may not be able to submit an offer due to the league’s tardiness

“We’ll see. From a footballing perspective, it depends on him. For me, I have no doubts. If Leo decides to come [back], he has all the doors open in terms of his footballing level. I know he’s going to help us. I’m responsible for the staff, and they have all the confidence and dream of incorporating him into the team. There is no doubt at all. I have no doubt that he’s going to help us a lot in a footballing sense. From there, the contractual situation isn´t my bother.”

About the club saying the contractual part [of his return] is more or less under control, and that Messi can wait

“From what they tell me, yes, but if, at the end, the coach has to give his go-ahead for [Messi] to return, he has the go-ahead 100 percent.”

On how Messi would fit in:

“Well, he can be deployed in many positions, he can adapt in midfield, he can play as a winger, as a number 10, as a false nine, where he’s played all his life. At the end, it’s about finding a natural spot for him so he can express his game fully, but yes I think he can help us a lot. I believe we’re lacking that talent in the final third, and Leo has always provided that.”

On Messi’s leadership with Busquets and Alba gone:

“Leo is also a natural leader, he can adapt perfectly to the circumstances. He’s been our club captain, the greatest player in history, and evidently in this club too. There is no doubt; I repeat and I insist: the coach has the doors open, 100 percent.”

He also said that Messi joins, it wouldn’t mean that Barça would look for a certain profile of player for another position in the squad.

On whether Messi not joining would change Barcelona’s squad plans:

“No, it’d change nothing. I’ve been very clear with him, with the sporting board, with Mateu [Alemany], with Jordi [Cruyff] too, who’s contract is expiring. WIth the president [Joan Laporta], we’ve spoken about the missing pieces in the team, and there’s nothing there [in terms of changing the plans], whether Messi joins or not. Him joining depends on him.”

On other targets:

Xavi also mentioned that despite Bernardo Silva being a player of a similar profile, he is a Manchester City player, so ‘it would be very difficult’.He also mentioned that he does like Joshua Kimmich, and that if the option is there, the club would negotiate with Bayern Munich.

As for Busquets leaving, Xavi stated that Barcelona need a player of a very high level to replace him. “If we don’t do that, it will cost us [with regards to] competing next season.”