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

Lionel Messi is reportedly seriously considering a return to FC Barcelona ahead of the 2022 summer window.

Messi's contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season, and talks about an extension have been stalled. Messi, who is currently free to negotiate a deal with any club, wants to return to his childhood club Barcelona because he likes their current sporting project and values the work done by Xavi Hernandez in a team that is 12 points clear in the La Liga title race, reported Catalan radio RAC1.

Barcelona could sell big players to fit Messi

However, Barcelona's financial situation is still a problem. The Catalan club still does not have the salary cap space to afford the contract that Messi would demand. The Camp Nou side will also have to reduce their wage bill a lot to fit Messi. The club is certain that it can sell some big players in the summer and Robert Lewandowski could be one of them. Since the season resumed post the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup in December last year, Lewandowski has netted only two goals.

It is understood that Xavi does not want to have any goal-scoring issues now that his squad is moving at the right pace from their rebuilding phase. While Barcelona have faith in Lewandowski, they could very well decide to offload him in the summer, considering they are looking to bring Messi back, which itself is an incredibly tough task in terms of personnel and budget.

Messi reportedly has set a condition for his return to Barcelona. The Argentine forward is willing to rejoin for the minimum wages but he wants to take a large part of the income the club would generate through the profits from merchandising tied to his name, which could sum up to around £177 million, according to El Nacional.

Meanwhile, two players from the current Barcelona squad have vocally spoken about wanting to see Messi back at Camp Nou: Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. Barcelona defender Alba experienced many legendary moments with Messi in Spain. Alba believes that a reunion between Messi and Barcelona would be good for both parties.

'Messi deserves better treatment'

"I would like him to come back, but I don't know if he will come back. We haven't talked about it, because he has a contract with PSG. I hope he returns. It would be good for the club and for him. He is happy in Paris. The first year he did not have a good time, it was difficult for him to adapt to life there, but I have spoken with him and this year he has been much better," Alba said.

Messi bid a tearful goodbye to Barcelona in the summer of 2021 and joined PSG as a free agent. He has not managed to make half his impact as he had done at Barcelona and for this, Messi has been on the receiving end of massive criticism from PSG fans. The latest incident happened last week when PSG lost 2-0 to Rennes and Messi was subject to more boos from the home fans.

Spanish winger Roberto, who scored in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Real Madrid in El Classico on Sunday, said that he wants Messi to come back as the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner "does not deserve the treatment he receives in Paris."

"I hope Messi comes back. We are waiting for him. He does not deserve the treatment he receives in Paris. We are waiting for Leo, we want him at Barça," said Roberto, whose comments came after PSG's 2-0 loss.

Messi has netted 18 goals and 17 assists in 32 competitive games for PSG this season. While they have been eliminated from the Champions League, PSG are seven points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table.