Lionel Messi has said he does not want to relive his traumatic departure from Barcelona two years ago after announcing on Wednesday that he would join MLS club Inter Miami CF from the Catalan club.
Messi, 35, left Barca as a free agent in August 2021 for Paris Saint-Germain because they couldn’t afford to register his contract within the spending limit imposed by LaLiga.
Barca were keen to bring back the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner this summer and coach Xavi Hernandez confirmed his interest. However, they found themselves in a similar situation once again and could not give any guarantees that the league would allow them to register signings.
“I really wanted to come back,” said Messi Diary sports after announcing his move to Miami. “But then again, after going through what I went through, after the exit I had, I didn’t want to have to go through the same situation again and see what would happen. I did not do it. I don’t want to put my future in someone else’s hands.
“I wanted to make my own decision for myself and my family. Even if I heard it [in the media] That the league accepted everything and everything was fine for me to come back, there were a lot of other things missing.
“I heard they had to sell players or lower players’ salaries and I didn’t want to go through that, nor be responsible for it, or have anything to do with it.”
“When I had to leave, they also said that LaLiga would have accepted everything, but in the end it wasn’t possible. I was afraid that the same thing would happen again and I would have to hurry.” [a decision] like I did back then.
Messi had agreed to a contract extension in 2021 but when it became apparent a week before the season that Barca couldn’t afford to register the contract with LaLiga, he quickly had to look for a solution outside the club where he spent 20 years had.
He ended up moving to PSG, where he won the Ligue 1 title twice in a row. Aside from winning the World Cup with Argentina, he said the last two years have been tough.
“I had to come to Paris, stay in a hotel with my family for a long time while my children went to school and still be in the hotel,” said Messi. “We never, ever wanted to come [to Paris]. It was very, very, very difficult, but the family supports me and it’s a collective decision, not just mine. There’s a touch of sadness about them now, because while it was hard for them at first, they’re getting used to Paris now.
“[But] I just had two years where things weren’t going so well for the family and I wasn’t enjoying it. The month we won the world championship was spectacular for me, but otherwise it was a difficult time for me.”
Messi has also had offers from Saudi Arabia and other European clubs but said he liked the idea of playing in MLS and staying out of the spotlight a bit.
“I had an offer from another European team but I didn’t even evaluate it because my idea in Europe was just to go to Barcelona,” he said. “I’ve also gotten to a point where I want to step out of the spotlight a bit and think more about my family.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the American league to experience football in a different way and to enjoy everyday life, of course with the same responsibility and that same will to win.”