Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes the club’s only chance of re-signing former forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar would be on a free transfer.
After the Catalan giants were unable to renew Messi’s contract last summer due to their financial difficulties, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner moved to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Messi joined up with Neymar in the French capital, where the latter has been plying his trade since making his world-record transfer from Camp Nou in 2017.
Both players have been linked with a return to Barca, but Laporta insists that it would be “irrational” for the club to pay a transfer fee for either player given their financial predicament.
“Who doesn’t like [Neymar]?” Laporta told L’Esportiu. “He is an exceptional player, but he has [three] years on his contract with PSG. He is effectively enslaved to money.
“The only way he could come back to Barca is for free. It would be irrational to pay a transfer fee for a player you have already had.
“[Messi] left how he left. We would all have liked him to end his sporting career here, but because of [La Liga’s] fair play rules and because of PSG’s offer, it was not to be.
“If he wants to return one day, it would have to be for free. And the technical staff would have to decide if he fits the new project or not.”
Messi has one year remaining on his PSG contract, while the long-term future of Neymar at the Parc des Princes is believed to be uncertain following the announcement of Kylian Mbappe‘s new three-year contract extension.