Hopes were high that Lionel Messi would make a romantic return to Barcelona, after his departure from PSG was confirmed last week.
Messi joined Barcelona at the age of just 13 in 2000, and stayed with the club for the following 21 years, winning just about every major honour in the club game during his time in Spain, as well as an astonishing six Ballon d'Ors.
However, he was left broken hearted in the summer of 2021 when, in the midst of a financial crisis at the club, he was forced out of Barcelona, despite his adamant statement that he would rather stay with La Blaugrana.
Though he has enjoyed domestic success at his new home of PSG, he has never seemed to fully settle in the French capital, and a return to the Camp Nou has been heavily teased over the past two years.
Despite the persistent links with Barcelona, and a reported mutual desire from both parties to make the deal happen, Messi now seems set to sign for MLS side Inter Miami in what will likely be the final move of his career.
The move to Miami was doubly surprising given that, if Messi were not to rejoin Barcelona, he was widely expected to take a big-money move to Saudi Arabia, given his links to the country's tourism drive and 2030 World Cup bid.
After Wednesday's unexpected news, Barcelona took the unusual step of releasing a statement on Messi's impending move Stateside, in which they appeared to justify the player's decision not to join them.
Barcelona make unusual statement as Messi moves to the States
In a statement released on their official website, Barcelona took the unusual step of publicly responding to a player's decision not to join them.
In an even stranger detail, Lionel Messi's move to Inter Miami has not yet been officially confirmed by either party, with the first official announcement coming from Barcelona's statement, in which they rather callously revealed Messi's reasoning for moving to the MLS:
On Monday, June 5, Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, informed Club President Joan Laporta of the player's decision to join Inter Miami, despite having been presented with a proposal from Barça, in consideration of the desire of both FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi for him to once again wear blaugrana.
President Laporta understood and respected Messi's decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.
Both Joan Laporta and Jorge Messi also agreed to work together to promote a proper tribute from Barça fans to honor a footballer who has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barça.
It's disappointing that we won't get to see Lionel Messi playing for Barcelona again but, all the same, the statement made by the club in the aftermath of his decision to move Stateside does not reflect well on La Blaugrana.