Lionel Messi reveals key reasons for joining Inter Miami despite wanting 'dream' Barcelona return

Lionel Messi at PSG ahead of Inter Miami move
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lionel Messi has opened up on the reasons behind why he's joining Inter Miami on a free transfer this summer, rather than make a sensational return to Barcelona which was his "dream".

Following two seasons at PSG, the club confirmed at the end of the season Messi would be leaving upon the expiry of his contract on June 30. The 35-year-old explains how he wanted to move back to Spain and join Barcelona, but with the club's issues surrounding financial fair play regulations (FFP), it became less and less feasible. 

Instead, it was announced on Wednesday that Messi would be moving to the MLS side co-owned by David Beckham, surprising the football world which expected him to either head back to Camp Nou or even join Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in Saudi Arabia.

Messi told Mundo Deportivo and Sport: "I've been supporting Barca during the year. I'm a fan. I spoke to (manager) Xavi a lot, we discussed and we always had frequent exchanges.

"I heard reports of La Liga giving the green light but the truth is that many, really many things were still missing in order to make my return to Barca happen. I didn't want to be responsible for them to sell players or reduce salaries. I was tired.

"I really wanted to return to Barca, I had that dream. But after what happened two years ago, I did not want to be in the same situation again, leaving my future in the hands of someone else. 

Indeed, the whole reason Messi joined PSG two years ago was because Barcelona didn't have the funds to register him as a player for the season. That haunting memory clearly weighed heavy on his mind.

"I wanted to make my own decision, and that's why my return to Barca didn't happen. Although I would have loved to, it couldn't be done. I'm not going back to Barca, I'm going to Inter Miami."

While his ultimate wish of returning to Barca hasn't come to fruition, Messi is still excited at the prospect of playing in the MLS, where he believes he will become a happier person and player than he was during his two years in Paris.

"I'm at a point where I want to step out of the spotlight a bit, think more about my family. I had two years where I was so unhappy on a personal level that I didn't enjoy it.

"I had that month that was spectacular for me because of winning the World Cup, but apart from that, it was a difficult period for me. I want to rediscover joy, enjoy my family, my children, the day-to-day."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.