The Argentine superstar will see his lucrative two-year contract at the Parc des Princes expire at the end of June and it had been clear for quite some time that no extension would be agreed, with manager Christophe Galtier having already confirmed his departure earlier this week.
Barcelona are hoping to seal a fairytale return to the Camp Nou for Messi two years after his emotional exit enforced by new LaLiga spending rules which left them unable to honour his new five-year contract, while he has also been linked with big-money moves to Inter Miami in the United States or Saudi Arabia, where the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner serves as an ambassador to the tourist board.
“After two seasons with PSG, the adventure between Leo Messi and Paris Saint-Germain will come to an end at the end of the 2022-23 campaign,” PSG announced in an official statement released before Saturday’s final Ligue 1 fixture of the season at home to Clermont Foot, alongside a farewell video.
“The Club wishes Leo, with undeniable emotion, many more accomplishments for the rest of his career.”
Messi’s final game against Clermont will take him to 75 appearances in total for PSG, with 32 goals and 35 assists registered in advance of that goodbye appearance.
Paris Saint-Germain would like to warmly thank the seven-time Ballon d'Or, winner of a Trophée des Champions and two French championship titles wearing the Red & Blue colors.#MerciMessi 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/VrHxb5lCHM
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) June 3, 2023
The 35-year-old won back-to-back league titles with the Parisians as well as the 2022 Trophee des Champions, while he also claimed his record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or award during his time at the club, as well as winning the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar over the winter.
Messi overtook great rival Cristiano Ronaldo with his record-breaking 496th goal in Europe’s major leagues as PSG clinched their 11th Ligue 1 title with a 1-1 draw at Strasbourg last week.
PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi paid tribute to Messi, stating: “I would like to thank Leo Messi for his two seasons in Paris. To see a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in the Rouge & Bleu and at Parc des Princes, winning back-to-back Ligue 1 titles and inspiring our younger players has been a pleasure.
“His contribution to Paris Saint-Germain and Ligue 1 cannot be understated and we wish Leo and his family all the best for the future.”
Though many now expect Messi to follow Ronaldo by making a lucrative summer switch to Saudi Arabia, Barcelona are working hard to secure his return.
“The priorities are very clear, I would really like Messi to return,” head coach Xavi told reporters before Barca’s final game of a LaLiga-winning season against Celta Vigo on Sunday.
“[Messi] knows that and I have spoken with him. From there, Leo aside, the other priority is a midfielder [to replace the departing Sergio Busquets] in the ideal scenario.
“I can’t give names really, but the club know my priorities and also the targets. I have been very clear. There are names and positions are in place depending on different scenarios.”
Asked if Barcelona could realistically afford a return for Messi, Xavi added: “That’s the club’s issue, it’s a question for [director of football] Mateu [Alemany].
“I am not responsible for that side of things. On the sporting side of things, I think it would be a spectacular signing. He would help us a lot.
“I wouldn’t say I am nervous [about the situation]. I am expectant because I have been speaking with [Messi]. I would be thrilled if he came back.
“However, it’s more a decision for him to make right now, a personal one. I would understand any outcome, but as Barca fan I would really like him to come back.”