EXCLUSIVE: Messi to return to Barcelona in 2024 for spectacular tribute
Now playing with Inter Miami, Messi is an icon of the Camp Nou club but his departure in the summer of 2020 was hasty and did not offer the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner the opportunity he wanted to say goodbye to the club’s fans at the end of his contract.
Barcelona officials, though, are planning what has been described as the “best tribute match ever” for Messi on 29 November, 2024 – coinciding with the club’s 125th anniversary.
A Lionel Messi Barca Legends XI will play a World XI, with some of the greatest names in footballing history set to be invited to participate in what will be a gala event.
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Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Messi’s close friend Sergio Aguero are just some of the names who could once again pull on the Barcelona shirt to play in this tribute match. Going further back in time, Barca legends such as David Villa, Ronaldinho, Cesc Fabregas, Rivaldo, Romario, Luis Enrique and Ronaldo are all invited to play too.
Such a formidable lineup of Barca stars requires a similar level of competition to make for an entertaining game, and the Catalan club are set to ensure that is the case, having invited a litany of greats to face them – including numerous old adversaries.
Sergio Ramos, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Gareth Bale are among a string of former Real Madrid players who have been approached to face Barca on this occasion, while there is also hope that Cristiano Ronaldo might play if he can be freed from his obligations with Al-Nassr that weekend.
Diego Simeone and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have also been invited to participate, Premier League greats such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres could all play too.
Tickets for Messi’s tribute match, which will take place in the redeveloped Camp Nou, are expected to start at €250 each.