Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Lionel Messi will leave the club at the expiration of his contract this summer.
The Argentine has been strongly linked with a return to Barcelona, with manager Xavi Hernandez very keen to reunite with his former teammate.
But the big question is can they afford to sign the 35-year-old?
The Catalans will need to cut €200 million in spending before making any financial moves this summer. They have benefited from the sudden retirement of Gerard Pique, while Antoine Griezmann’s permanent move to Atletico Madrid has also helped them financially.
The Blaugrana are likely to put Clement Lenglet, Sergino Dest and Samuel Umtiti up for sale following their loan spells in 2022-23.
Sergio Busquets will leave the club after spending nearly two decades at Camp Nou. Jordi Alba could also depart this summer, with interest from Atletico, Inter Milan and Benfica.
Barcelona may also end up selling Raphinha and Ansu Fati this summer, but it is unclear whether the two could help them generate a huge profit.
All these steps still might not be enough as there is more spending to be done. The La Liga champions are yet to register the new contracts of Gavi, Sergi Roberto and Ronald Araujo. They have also reached an agreement to sign Inigo Martinez who will also have to be registered.
Their matchday revenues could also suffer next season as the Catalans will be playing at the Olympic Stadium due to the renovation of Camp Nou.
The club president Joan Laporta activated a series of economic levers last summer to stay afloat and then make several new signings. But they can no longer avail that option due to La Liga’s rule change in December 2022.
It is not impossible that Barcelona’s all-time top scorer Messi will return to Camp Nou this summer, but their current financial situation makes that look very unlikely.
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