Lionel Messi's time at Barcelona may not be permanently over as president Joan Laporta teased a possible return for the star in the future. The Argentine left the club in 2021 after 17 glorious years and joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on a free transfer.
He was supposed to sign a new contract after returning from his summer break, but La Liga's regulations prevented that from happening, paving the way for an exit.
Unlike many other Barca legends in the past, Messi didn't get a proper farewell, bidding his adieu only at a press conference attended by his teammates and coaches.
However, Laporta feels it's the club's "responsibility" to close his chapter in a better way, for which he hopes Messi's time at the Camp Nou isn't permanently over.
Speaking to journalist Caro De Las Salas on ESPN, he said (via Fabrizio Romano):
"I think, hope that Leo Messi story with Barcelona is not over yet. It's still open, it's our responsibility to make sure it has a more beautiful ending than it was."
Messi left just months after Laporta was re-elected as Barca's president, and the 60-year-old was previously in office from 2003 to 2010.
During his first stint, the Argentine broke into the senior team and led the club to numerous honors, including their first treble in 2009 under Pep Guardiola.
For all the success Laporta has seen at the club with Messi, he feels he owes the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner a lot. The Spaniard further added:
"As Barça president, I feel indebted to Messi."
Messi's contract with PSG runs until June 2023, following which he could be on the move again.
MLS side Inter Miami have been linked with him, although after Laporta's comments, it seems like Barcelona could swoop in too and bring him back to Catalonia.
Former Barcelona ace to decide his future after World Cup
A return to Barcelona has been teased throughout Messi's troubled debut season at PSG, but the Ligue 1 champions are looking to extend their deal by another year.
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, PSG have told the Argentine that they're ready to renew his term until 2024, but he will decide his future only after this year's World Cup.
Given everything he's accomplished with the Catalans and his stature at the club, Messi could possibly return to Barcelona, although right now, the chances of that happening look slim.