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Barcelona vice president makes contact with Lionel Messi about return

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Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards preview this weekend’s Premier League action, where Manchester City will have to defeat Liverpool to keep pace with league leaders Arsenal.

The future of Lionel Messi has largely been linked with another season at Paris Saint-Germain or a move to Major League Soccer, but his former club is an option and no longer just lurking in the weeds.

Barcelona vice president Rafael Yuste said Friday that the club has been in contact with Messi’s camp regarding next season.

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“If we talk about La Masia academy and youth players, we are talking about Leo,” Yuste said. “He arrived here when he was 12 years old. Of course, I would love to have him back. I say it personally. But I think that many of our supporters would love that too.

“For everything he would represent if he came back. Not only talking about a sportive, economic, and social levels, among other issues.

“But also because I think that all beautiful stories must have a happy ending. And answering your question, my answer is yes. We are in contact with them (referring to Messi and his father and agent Jorge Messi).”

What’s the future of Lionel Messi: PSG, Barcelona, MLS?

Messi authored an unparalleled career at Barcelona and is widely considered the best playmaker of his generation, but had to leave the club due to financial problems in Spain.

He joined PSG in 2021 on a two-year deal and there have been plenty of reports that Les Parisiens and Messi were discussing a new short-term deal. But there have been nearly as many reports that he’s in line for a move to Inter Miami or another MLS club.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid last month to virtually assure a return to La Liga’s champions circle. Xavi’s side has only allowed nine goals in La Liga play, but it’s scoring totals are down and a Messi and Robert Lewandowski pairing remains terrifying despite their advanced age (and don’t forget Raphinha).

As for Messi, he’s far removed from his days of threatening to score 100 goals in a calendar year but he’s still the most prolific player in Ligue 1. Messi has 26 goal contributions this season including a league-best 13 assists. FotMob’s player rating system has him as far-and-away the best player this Ligue 1 season.

Does Barcelona or PSG offer him a better chance to win another European Cup, and would that even matter if the alternative provided by MLS is generationally lucrative in how it sets up his already potential-filled future.

Follow @NicholasMendola