Barcelona 'hugely confident' of announcing Lionel Messi return despite £350m Saudi offer

Barcelona are ‘hugely confident’ they will soon be in a position to announce the Hollywood homecoming of Lionel Messi, according to reports. The 35-year-old has received a huge contract offer from Saudi Arabia, with Al Hilal willing to pay the PSG forward nearly £350million a season. However, a return to Catalonia seems to be edging closer instead.

Barcelona had no choice but to let Messi leave for Paris Saint-Germain back in the summer transfer window of 2021, with the La Liga giants struggling financially at the time.

Fast-forward to now, however, and 90min say they’re ‘hugely confident’ of soon being able to announce a return for the football icon.

It’s claimed that Messi himself is said to prefer a return to Barcelona over a move to Al Hilal, despite the money the Saudi Arabian side are willing to put on the table.

Barcelona are reluctant to match that financial package, having spent the last two years being careful.

However, they’re said to be confident of clearing the financial decks and making room for Messi on their wage bill.

President Joan Laporta has long been talking up a return for the PSG star, with the duo previously close allies at the Nou Camp.

Sergio Busquets has apparently played a role behind the scenes, with the Spain international poised to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Busquets was one of Barcelona’s biggest earners and with the midfielder set to pursue a new challenge, that’s freed up funds and a vacancy for Messi to come in.

In order to further balance the books, the Catalan giants are prepared to show four of their current players the exit door.

Ousmane Dembele’s time at the club seems to be drawing to a close, having blown hot and cold since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Ansu Fati’s stock has fallen drastically in recent years and he’s another player seemingly destined to leave.

And Raphinha and Ferran Torres, who both earn a ‘significant wage at the club’, have been deemed surplus to requirements as well.

Messi isn’t the only player Barcelona are hopeful of signing this summer as they look to challenge for the Champions League next term.

They’re keen on Manchester City duo Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva, who have been on the La Liga titans’ radar for a number of years.

And Ruben Neves is a player under consideration, even if Xavi appears to have doubts about the Wolves star.

Last month, Barcelona vice-president Rafa Yuste insisted Messi would always be welcome back to the club.

"Leo and his family know the affection we have for them,” he said.

"I participated in the [contract] negotiations that in the end did not come to fruition unfortunately and I still have that thorn in my side.

“Of course I would love to see him return and I am sure that many fans share my feeling.

"I believe beautiful stories in life have to have happy endings and that’s why we are in contact with Messi, of course.

“When you're in love with a person, you lose contact but you want to continue being in love and I think Leo is also in love with Barca and the city of Barcelona.

“I think fate will make it possible. Let's see if we can have Leo back in Barcelona."

Messi scored 672 goals for Barcelona and clocked up 269 assists from 778 appearances for the club.

He also claimed 10 La Liga titles, while also firing the Catalan side to three Champions League crowns.

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