Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is hopeful Lionel Messi “does the impossible” and returns to Barcelona in the summer.
The PSG forward is all but guaranteed to depart France when his contract expires at the end of the season with a return to Barcelona already being discussed.
Messi, of course, departed the Catalans in 2021 after financial struggles left them unable to register the Argentina captain who subsequently joined PSG.
And Guardiola, who rose to prominence as Barcelona manager from 2008 to 2012, wants to see Messi back at the club where he spent majority of his career.
“I’m a Barcelona fan, I’ve got my tickets [at Camp Nou], and I just hope that one day we can say goodbye to him as he deserves,” Guardiola told ESPN Argentina. “He’s the greatest player of all time.
“In the last 12 years or so, Barcelona had a ‘boom’ and that wouldn’t have been possible without him. And I’m not talking about numbers, but rather his involvement in the play, his beauty, his efficiency, his efficiency, everything.”
Messi is also linked with a move to the MLS, but a more likelier option now seems to be Saudi Arabia.
At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Messi — who won the World Cup and essentially completed football in December — headed to the Gulf. At the same time, it would be a shame if he didn’t get to say a proper goodbye at the Camp Nou.
“I never would have thought that it would end as it did,” Guardiola added. “I’m convinced what president [Joan] Laporta loves Leo, and since he left, he has said [Messi] deserves to have a farewell for the important figure that he is.
“Leo helped our club [Barcelona] become much greater than when he arrived. When a person is so big, you have to say goodbye in the right way. He left because of very difficult financial circumstances, for thousands of reasons that I’m not going to get into.
“I hope the day comes when I’m in my seat [at Camp Nou] and I can stand up and applaud, and say goodbye to Leo as he deserves. And I know that Joan [Laporta] is going to try, and Leo too, and he and his family will receive all the love that Barcelona fans have for him, with all the gratitude and respect for what he did for the club.”
Guardiola notably managed Messi during his four-year spell in Barcelona and played a big role in the latter eventually becoming the world’s best player.