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Lionel Messi confirms returning to Barcelona was his “first option”

The Inter Miami player was named TIME Magazine’s Athlete of the Year

La Liga 2020/2021, FC Barcelona - Celta de Vigo Photo by Siu Wu/picture alliance via Getty Images

Lionel Messi has confirmed that going back to FC Barcelona was his first choice, but he ultimately decided it was not possible to go back home.

He signed with Inter Miami CF instead, and the rest is history. Today, he was announced as the winner of TIME Magazine’s Athlete of the Year, the first football (soccer) player to be given the honor.

“The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” he told TIME.

Barcelona promised Messi they would clear enough salary space to sign him in accordance with La Liga’s FFP rules. But they did not offer him a contract to sign. In fact, they couldn’t, until they cleared enough space.

Messi was not comfortable with the situation of having to force players out. Plus, there was a similar incident back in 2021. Barcelona promised him he’d be able to sign a new contract with them, but ultimately told him at the end it was not going to happen. That’s when he left for Paris Saint-Germain.

“My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible. I tried to return, and it did not happen,” Messi said today.

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