Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has said Lionel Messi will decide next week where he will continue his career, adding that the Catalan club are still interested in signing the forward should he choose to return.
Messi, 35, will play his last game for Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday before leaving the French champions as a free agent after two years in Paris.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
ESPN reported in April that Messi is considering a sizeable offer from Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal, although his father, Jorge, denied later reports he had agreed to a deal.
Major League Soccer side Inter Miami and Barca are also interested in his signature.
“Next week he will make a decision and you [media] have to leave him alone,” Xavi, who played alongside Messi at Barca and speaks to him regularly, told El Mundo Deportivo.
“He will decide next week and now there are 200 hypotheses. He will decide his future and here the doors are open, there is no debate.
“He will end the season there [at PSG]. He has a lot of respect for Paris Saint-Germain. He wants to finish in the best way. His contract ends and then, he has all the right in the world to say where he goes, where to end his career.”
Messi spent 21 years at Barca and helped the club win 35 trophies but left for PSG in August 2021 due to the club’s financial crisis.
The Argentina forward has contributed 21 goals and 20 assists for PSG in all competitions this season.
“I think that he has the football to continue playing at a high level and that if he comes to Barca, which most or all of the Catalans want, especially the coach, the doors are open,” Xavi said. “I am convinced that it will go well.”
In December, Messi captained Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title, ending his wait for the only major honour to have eluded him in his career.
He was then named men’s footballer of the year at The Best FIFA Football Awards in February — his second time winning the award, adding to his record seven Ballon d’Or trophies.
“I have zero doubts that he can help us a lot in terms of football,” Xavi added.
“He has all the confidence and all the enthusiasm of the [Barca] staff. I do see that he can help us a lot, I think we lack that talent in the last third [of the pitch] and Leo always provides that.”
Following the departures of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba this month, Xavi said he believes Barca would greatly benefit from having Messi lead the team again.
“Leo is also a natural leader,” Xavi said. “He would adapt perfectly to the circumstances. He has been captain of this club. He has been the best player in history and obviously of this club.”