Argentine star Lionel Messi has left European football after almost two decades with Barcelona and two years with PSG to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami. Messi is set to make $45 million net per year in the USA and has a contract lasting around three years. Barcelona were at the forefront of the race for his signature and his father and agent Jorge Messi even publicly expressed his desire to join his boyhood club but financial struggles prevented his much-awaited return. However, Messi could still wear the Barcelona shirt in the near future as the Catalan club plan to bring him back on loan during the MLS off-season.

According to L'Equipe, Inter Miami signing Messi and loaning him out to Barcelona in an attempt to derail Al-Hilal's efforts to land the Qatar 2022 champion was previously explored. The MLS 2023 season does not follow the normal football calendar as it starts in February and ends in October while the European season is from August to May. This gap opens the door for Barcelona to move for Messi on a loan deal as the 2024 MLS season dates are not yet confirmed. 

The deal would benefit both parties, as Messi would be able to play at the highest level of club football going into the 2024 Copa America, before finishing his career in the MLS. Barcelona would also be able to reunite with their record scorer and legend, who won ten La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, and seven Spanish Cups with them.

David Beckham, Inter Miami’s owner and former LA Galaxy player did this himself in 2009, playing for a few months with AC Milan in his time at LA Galaxy. Inter Miami currently lie rock bottom in the MLS Eastern Conference and Messi and co will have to work hard to reach the playoffs and fulfil Messi’s promise to Sergio Aguero.