Barcelona might have given up hope of signing Lionel Messi, but they want to ensure the Argentine genius is tied to the club beyond his career.
There has been open talk of a homage to Messi, allowing him to bid farewell to his adoring fans. Sport say this will not take pace before the closing stages of 2024 though, as Barcelona would much rather do so at Camp Nou than in Montjuic.
There is also a possibility that he returns to inaugurate the finished Camp Nou, which is scheduled for 2026. None of this has been spoken about with Messi, and neither has the fact that Barcelona want him to be part of the club when he retires, in one role or another.
The Blaugrana were grateful for his words of affection towards the club during his Ballon d’Or press conference, but any homage may have to wait until that date at the earliest. Tensions between Messi and President Joan Laporta, whom he blames for his unwanted exit from the club, remain. The two did not speak at the Ballon d’Or, and reportedly Messi turned down a photo opportunity with Laporta and fellow winner Aitana Bonmati.
Laporta’s Barcelona mandate ends in 2026, when there will be fresh elections for the position, although Laporta has recently hinted he would run again for the position. A new president might have a better chance of smooth negotiations.