Newcastle ‘hold key’ to Barcelona re-signing Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s hopes of sealing a sensational return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain this summer could rest with Newcastle as the Magpies weigh up a mega-money swoop for Raphinha. The Brazilian winger has been a staple under Xavi in Catalonia this season following his £55million transfer from Leeds last July but Barca have been told they must raise £178m this summer if they wish to continue spending.

Barcelona have been struggling to keep their heads above water since the COVID-19 pandemic but financial fears were eased last summer when club president Joan Laporta opted to sell 25 per cent of their broadcasting rights while also striking a lucrative four-year sponsorship deal with Spotify.

Still, La Liga president Javier Tebas is unwilling to let Barcelona off the hook after previously fining the club £705,000 in January for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations and speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit in March – he ordered Barcelona to raise £178m in player to sales to continue spending.

That’s where Newcastle come into play as they’re understood to be lining up a big-money swoop for Raphinha at the end of the season.

Xavi would ideally like to keep the 26-year-old but the Brazil international is one of only few players within Barcelona’s squad that could help raise substantial cash.

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Raphinha is said to be valued at around £70m and Chelsea and Arsenal could yet re-enter the running having previously submitted multiple bids for the player last summer before his move to Spain.

The Blues actually struck an agreement with Leeds worth in the region of £55m but the deal collapsed when Raphinha held out for Barcelona following a verbal agreement over personal terms.

Xavi is said to be desperate to bring Messi back to Barcelona and the Argentine is prepared to do everything within his power to make the move happen despite his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where he has interest from Al Hilal.

The Middle Eastern club are set to offer the World Cup winner in the region of £350m per year in order to join Cristiano Ronaldo in Riyadh but Messi is holding out for a return to Catalonia.

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Messi is set to leave PSG on a free transfer at the end of the season and although he will not cost a fee, Barcelona still need to make room within their wage bill before they can finalise the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s return.

Tebas’ comments suggest that even if Barcelona raise £178m – they will only be able to spend 40 per cent of that figure [£71.2m] this summer.

“As of today, Barcelona doesn’t have any room in its budget to spend in the upcoming transfer window,” Tebas said at the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit.

“Barcelona has been involved in questionable behaviour which has had an impact on La Liga and we are acting accordingly. We have ruled that they can no longer sign more players.

“They sold off €700m in TV rights and tried to find different ways to solve the situation but they won’t be able to do that next season. We have strict economic controls. At the end of each window, we tell all the clubs in La Liga what they can spend.

“In the case of Barcelona, they have to drop from spending on wages and transfers from €650m to €450m, so it’s a budget of minus €200m. They have to reduce their investment in players and we have encouraged them to sell players because, for every amount they raise in sales, they can spend 40 per cent of that.”

Barcelona are also reportedly open to re-signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Chelsea following his disastrous season at Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham loanee Clement Lenglet and Hector Bellerin are among those almost certain to leave the club this summer as Barcelona look to quickly raise the required cash that would enable them to continue spending.

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