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Why did Messi choose Inter Miami instead of Barcelona or Saudi Arabia? What did he say?

In separate interviews for Sport and Mundo Deportivo, Messi explained why he opted to join Inter Miami and why a return to Barcelona wasn’t on the cards.

Messi debutaría con Inter Miami ante Cruz Azul en Leagues Cup

Leo Messi announced in separate interviews with Sport and Mundo Deportivo why he has decided to sign for the Inter Miami rather than return to Barcelona or accept a multi-million dollar to play in the Saudi Pro League. “I’m not going back to Barça, I’m going to Inter Miami”, he told Catalan media on Wednesday.

The North American franchise, founded in 2018 and which boasts David Beckham as one of its owners, has been behind the Argentinean star for some time. Now, almost exactly a year before the United States hosts the Copa América and three before it stages the 2026 World Cup finals together with Canada and Mexico, Messi is set to spend the next four years in MLS. He explained why a dream return to Barcelona was never going to happen.

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I was really keen to go back to Barcelona, I was excited about it and hopeful it could happen, but on the other hand, after everything I had been through - and the way I left the club, I didn’t want to be in a situation like that again. I waited to see what might happen and left my future in the hands of others, shall we say. I wanted to make my own decision, based on what was best for me and my family. Even if LaLiga would have accepted everything and everything was in place for me to return, there were still so many other things that needed to fall into place. I heard that Barça would have had to sell players or reduce their wages and to be honest, that’s not something I wanted to happen - I didn’t want to be responsible for something like that just for my own gain”, Messi said, with regard to his decision not to return to Barcelona...

Messi opens up about the difficulty of leaving Barcelona in 2021

“I have been accused of a lot of things that haven’t been true during my career at Barcelona and I was a little bit tired of it, I didn’t want to go through all of that again. When the time came when I had to leave, LaLiga had agreed for the club to register me but in the end, it wasn’t to be. I was afraid that the same thing might happen, and be left in the lurch. That’s how it was when I had to come here to Paris and stay in a hotel with my family for a long time, with my kids having to go to school while we were holed up in a hotel... I wanted to make my own decision and that was partly why I decided against going back to Barça. I would have been delighted to if it had been possible, but it wasn’t,” he continued.

He gave details about the conversations he has had with Joan Laporta and Xavi: “The truth is, I didn’t really speak too much with the president (Laporta) - maybe once or twice at the most. With Xavi, there was a lot of dialogue, and especially after the club planned to bring me back. We spoke about the possibility of me returning. We were both hopeful it could happen, we spoke about whether that was really what we wanted, whether it would be good for the team and for him, and we remained in contact”.

Messi elaborated on how painful it was for him to leave Barcelona two years ago, which made him wary about a second spell at Camp Nou: “I recently explained that I really didn’t want to go though all of that again. It was a really dark moment in my life. We had the same excitement we always had at the start of every season, getting back into training with the kids at their schools and with their routines. But when everything was ready to be signed, from one day to the next, everything turned on its head and there was nothing I could do. I was told that it wasn’t possible and I had to leave the club. I had to move quickly and find another club, make a decision under pressure and then go though everything we went through. It was tough”.

He added that he appreciates Barcelona’s desire to re-sign him now: “To be absolutely honest, I don’t know if they did everything possible or not. All I know is what I talked about with Xavi... They had, according to some people, got permission from LaLiga to go ahead with it. But like I say, it wasn’t just about that. There were a lot of other things that had to be thought about and sorted out. The club, as things stand, was not in a position to guarantee 100% that I could return. I fully understand that, for the situation that the club’s in. That’s basically it”.

Money not an issue

The Argentinean stressed that there was no economic issues between him and Barcelona that impeded his return: “The economic side was never a problem for me or an obstacle. We didn’t even get around to discussing the contract. There was a proposal, but nothing concrete, written or signed, because there was no deal there and we didn’t know whether there would be one or not. The intention was there, but we couldn’t take it forward and neither did we talk about money. If it had been a question of money, I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or somewhere else. It seemed like a hell of a lot of money to me and I decided to try somewhere else and not for the money,” he concouded.


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