Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski would love Lionel Messi to return to the Catalan club from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, he said on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Argentine World Cup winner left Barça in 2021 when the club could not afford to renew his contract and his PSG deal expires in June.
Amid whistles from PSG supporters who see Messi as a symbol of the club's mistakes in chasing star signings instead of building a competitive team, Barcelona are openly courting the forward.
"Messi belongs to Barça and if he returns it would be something incredible," said Lewandowski. "We know that his place is here, in Barcelona. I don't know what will happen, but I hope that next season we can play together."
Messi is the club's all-time top goalscorer and many consider him the best player in the history of football.
The playmaker scored a record 672 goals in 778 matches for Barcelona, winning 35 trophies, after joining the club at 13-years-old and developing at their feted La Masia youth academy.
Barcelona fans have chanted Messi's name in the 10th minute – representing his former Barca shirt number – in their last two matches, including a 0-0 draw against Girona on Monday in La Liga.
"Leo generates excitement, they have chanted his name in two games now, we'll see what happens," said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez after the derby clash.
Lewandowski, top scorer in Spain, could not find the net for the league leaders against Girona and, speaking at a charity event, said he had been carrying an injury.
"I took a blow from [Real Madrid defender Ede]) Militao in the game against Madrid and I could not walk," added Lewandowski, referring to Barcelona's 4-0 thrashing by Los Blancos in the Copa del Rey last week.
"On the pitch I have to play better but that knock from Militao left my body in a bad way."