Lionel Messi has disclosed the rationale behind why he turned down a transfer to Barcelona, the team he spent 17 seasons playing for. The World Cup winner was a free agent after two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain and had a number of offers on the table, including those from the Catalan club and Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia.
He ultimately decided to play for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer, a team that is co-owned by David Beckham, another legendary figure in world football.
According to media sources, Barca was working with the Spanish league to ensure it could get a sufficient pay cap agreed before the new season, as well as restructuring its finances to ensure it could afford Messi’s return. Barcelona still has to add several players who were listed with the minor teams, like playmaker Gavi, according to The Associated Press, but it earned some crucial salary cap room with the departure of veterans like Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
“The truth is that I had offers from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my idea was only to go to Barcelona,” he continued in a subsequent interview with the Catalan media outlet Sport. It was time to move to the American league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day-to-day after winning the World Cup and not being able to travel to Barça.
After retiring, Messi did keep the possibility of continuing to work for the Catalan team open.