Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and his future may lie elsewhere. AFP/CHRISTOF STACHE

FC Barcelona continues to be linked with former captain Lionel Messi nearly two years since he left the club under bitter circumstances in the summer of 2021. Now, it is being reported that the Catalan giants are seriously looking for a way to make the Argentine's sensational comeback a reality. In order to facilitate the move, they are reportedly devising a plan to be able to offer a package that would earn Messi approximately 200 million euros (£177m).

Messi's contract with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer, and he has not yet agreed to sign a contract extension. It is understood that PSG are keen on convincing him to stay, but they are not likely to bend over backwards to give him a high-value contract as they are currently under pressure to slash their wage bill due to Financial Fair Play regulations.

Furthermore, Messi's first year in Paris was largely underwhelming, and while things have improved this season, his best performances came for his national team side when they won the 2022 FIFA World Cup a few months ago.

There have been rumours that PSG have offered a contract extension, but with a reduced salary compared to the one that he currently has. From a financial point of view, the Argentine will likely be able to secure better offers from other clubs. There has been interest from Saudi Arabia, and his father was recently spotted in the country in what many believe could be a trip to hear out interested parties.

PSG will likely improve their offer, but FC Barcelona are determined to find a way to convince their club legend to return "home."

Laporta's creative scheme of salary plus massive add-ons

FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been dealing with the immense task of digging the club out of its financial turmoil. He inherited a debt of over one billion euros when he took over the club in March 2021. He was not able to successfully offer Messi a contract extension at that time, but he was able to pull several financial levers that allowed the club to remain active in the subsequent transfer windows.

Barcelona are now 12 points clear at the top of La Liga, and while their financial issues remain, Laporta is reportedly determined to bring Messi back. According to a report from Forbes, the club has made a "final offer" to Messi which would entail him receiving €200,000 (£177,000) a year, which is equivalent to La Liga's minimum wage.

This will help the club stay within the league's salary cap requirements. However, one of the world's highest paid players will not be satisfied with just the minimum wage. This is where a little creativity comes in.

Apart from his fixed wages, the club is reportedly offering a projected €100 million (£88.5m) worth of proceeds from his future farewell match. The club will likely hype up the Argentine's farewell match in such a way that they would earn a significant amount from gate receipts, television rights and sponsorship fees. This match could take place in a year or two, depending on the length of the contract that will be agreed.

Furthermore, the total earnings that Messi can expect from the deal could sky rocket up to around €200 million (£177 million). This is because the club is also willing to offer profits from merchandise sales on items featuring Messi's name, image and number.

The club itself has not confirmed the reports, but numerous Spanish media outlets have been sharing similar versions of the story.

Jose Alvarez Haya of popular football programme "El Chiringuito" has described Barcelona's plans as an "imaginative formula" due to the fact that they will be generating most of the player's income from outside of his actual wages.

The same programme also suggested that Messi will be offered a one-year deal with an option to extend for another year.