Messi must bury hatchet with TWO Barcelona players ahead of return

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • 1 Apr 2023 14:51 BST
  • 3 min read
Lionel Messi, PSG, 2022/23

Lionel Messi looks to be nearing a return to Barcelona, but the dressing room dynamics have changed since he left and he will have some bridge-building to do.

Messi is Barcelona's - and perhaps the game's - greatest player off all time, and he scored a record 672 goals for the club, winning six of his seven Ballons d'Or there, before leaving on a free to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021.

A World Cup-winner with Argentina in December, Messi is out of contract with PSG this summer, and Barca have made it clear they want him back, with their vice president Rafa Yuste publicly stating recently that: "I'd love for him to return. The beautiful stories in life must end well."

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But whilst Messi left as one of the club captains, one who had the team built around him, he will have to build bridges with Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ousmane Dembele if that were to become the case again next season.

"It is public knowledge that Messi and Ter Stegen didn't end in the best way for the Argentinian's last days at Barca, and now the German is, additionally, one of the captains and heavyweights of the squad," report Catalunya Radio.

"The relationship between Messi and Dembele wasn't entirely smooth either, and Xavi has never hidden the fact that the French winger is a core footballer for his project."

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Dembele has looked like a player reborn this season, with 10 goal-involvements from 18 games to help Barca to the top of La Liga, but he also shares a favoured position with Messi on the right of a three-man attack.

There are also reports that Messi will play deeper than he did in his previous spell at Barca, but that could see him competing with prodigies Gavi and Pedri for influence. The youngsters will no doubt acquiesce, but it is another dynamic Xavi wants to talk about with

On and off the field, then, Messi will have to adapt.