Paris St-Germain remain Lionel Messi’s preferred club for next season but need to convince him they can continue to be competitive at the top of European football, says Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague.
The 35-year-old Argentina forward is out of contract this summer but is determined to continue in elite European football and is in talks to extend his stay in Paris for another year.
The Barcelona legend has scored 29 goals in 64 games for PSG since leaving the Nou Camp two summers ago and believes he can still compete for the top honours, ruling out the possibility of a return to boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys.
Messi was part of the PSG side who were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, and the World Cup winner wants another realistic chance to win it for the fifth time next season.
Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father and agent, and PSG director Luis Campos have an agreement in principle, says Balague, and talks are continuing.
“At the moment, we are in discussion,” confirmed Campos. “I would like to keep him in this project, I can’t hide it. I would be delighted if he continued. We are discussing at the moment to try to reach the goal and continue to have him with us.”
Balague also believes PSG’s budget could be limited next season to comply with Financial Fair Play rules – putting the quality of their squad at risk.
But Campos is confident any challenges can be met. He told Le Parisien: “We tried to be creative with the financial constraints. We need to be respectful of Uefa and Fifa. But we are ready.
“We have made a good plan, which involves reducing the number of professional players in the squad to make room for the youngsters of the club of high quality and not to lose them to other great European clubs.”
Balague added: “The agreement in principle for Messi now has to be confirmed in writing and in details – wages, length of contract. He is listening and would continue if conditions are right.
“As usual, I imagine there will be demands, above all one in particular – that PSG continue being a competitive team.
“Things that could affect that are if Kylian Mbappe goes, if Qatar stops being interested in the club, if financial limits force PSG to sell players or if PSG are unable to meet the financial minimum to keep Messi.”
Messi is favourite to win the Ballon d’Or, which will be handed out in October, after winning the World Cup with Argentina in December. He has scored 18 goals in 30 games for PSG this season. In 36 games for club and country this season, Messi has scored 30 goals and assisted 20.
That would be his eighth Ballon d’Or – three more than anybody else – and that is one of his considerations, says Balague.
He is likely to win his second Ligue 1 title with the club – they are eight points clear of second-placed Marseille.
“It is totally impossible that he goes to Newell’s Old Boys this summer, despite rumours,” says Balague.
“He wants to continue in elite football. He has not thought of going to Newell’s this summer and there has been no chance of that happening for next season.
“Messi’s camp insist there is no official offer from Major League Soccer side Inter Miami yet, but Inter sources are confident they have put all their cards on the table for Messi and will wait for his decision.”
Messi left Barcelona in 2021 because financial issues meant they could not afford to keep him.
He scored a record 672 goals in 778 games for Barca – the club he joined as a 13-year-old – and won 35 trophies with the club.
Balague said: “Barcelona president Joan Laporta met Jorge Messi recently, but only to discuss a possible homage in the future.
“There is no offer [from Barcelona] whatsoever on the table for him right now. Nobody expects a return to happen.
“La Liga would oppose the selling of another part of the club to fund any move for Messi anyway, with their priority to reduce Barcelona’s 200m euro debt.”
Source – BBC Sport