When will Lionel Messi return for Barcelona?

Cameron Smith
Lionel Messi playing for Barcelona in La Liga, 2020/21

After months of speculation, it seems as though Lionel Messi is set to return to Barcelona.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been without a club since his contract expired on June 30, and is currently on holiday in Ibiza with his family and the families of Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas.

Messi, however, has not returned to Spain for more than a few days since winning the Copa America, his first ever major international trophy.

The Argentine himself is relaxed about his contract situation, despite losing a huge sum of money every day he's without a club.

Unlike last summer, when he wanted to leave, Messi now reportedly is keen on remaining at the club, with their decent 2021 form, and their plethora of exciting youngsters likely to have convinced him.

SPORT have reported that a new five-year deal is being finalised, and it would see Messi contracted to the club until he is 39-years-old.

Messi will also take a 50% pay cut to aid Barcelona's financial troubles, and help them to stay within the La Liga salary limits that have threatened the future of their new signings.

The Spanish top flight season begins on August 13, but Barcelona believe Messi will already have returned by then.

When is Messi scheduled to return?

Messi has missed several pre-season friendlies, with the likes of Memphis Depay stepping up in his absence.

However, this won't need to occur for much longer as according to the Barcelona commentator for Onda Cero Radio, Alfredo Martinez, "If nothing is complicated, the intention of the club is for its captain to [play] against Juventus on Sunday in the presentation of the team at the Joan Gamper. The objective is that he is already at the Gamper with the team."

The Joan Gamper final is a Barcelona tradition held annually in pre-season. The club aim for Messi to return for this year's edition on August 8. However, having not trained for over a month, Messi may not be at his best.

He will then be back in full-time training before the Blaugrana kick off their La Liga season against Real Sociedad on August 15.

After contributing to 39 league goals last season, Barcelona are desperate to re-sign Messi, and it seems their wish will be granted in the coming days.