Xavi of Barcelona on Lionel Messi's return to the club: 'Leave him alone.'

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has called for Lionel Messi to be left alone as the PSG forward is linked with a return to Camp Nou.

Messi, 35, is out of contract with PSG at the end of the season, and Barcelona vice president Eduard Romeu stated last week that it would be financially feasible to bring him back to the club.

Romeu's comments came after president Joan Laporta hinted at a sensational reunion with Messi in a summer interview with ESPN.

"With Leo, we'll see, but it's not the time to talk about it right now," Xavi said ahead of Barcelona's Champions League match against Internazionale on Tuesday.

"You know how much I adore him. He is a friend to whom I will always send my best wishes. Barcelona is his home, but we're not doing him any favors by discussing [his future].

"Let us leave him alone to enjoy his time in Paris and best wishes."

Messi's return is being discussed as Barcelona appears to have moved on from the Argentina forward, with Robert Lewandowski's goal in the weekend's win over Mallorca propelling them to the top of LaLiga for the first time in over two years.

While they remain unbeaten in La Liga, Barcelona must work hard to avoid being eliminated from the Champions League group stage for the second season in a row.

After both Barcelona and Inter were defeated by Bayern Munich, it appears that the upcoming meetings between the two sides – at San Siro on Tuesday and Camp Nou the following week – will determine who advances with the German champions.

"It appears to be the case," Xavi said when asked if Barcelona and Inter were now competing for second place. "We've lost to Bayern and won against Viktoria [Plzen], so Tuesday's game is crucial, as is the one next week at home.

"Let's see how Bayern performs against Plzen on Tuesday, but we can't fail. We are in good shape, but we must continue to show it. In this competition, we have already let Bayern down. We need to play the same way we did in Munich, but this time get the result.

"Being top of LaLiga gives us confidence because it shows we're doing well, but Tuesday will be a different story. We didn't get any points in Munich, so now we have to prove that we can compete in this competition. It's a massive game."

Both teams are dealing with injuries ahead of the game. Barca will be without Jules Kounde, Hector Bellerin, Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong, and Memphis Depay once more. Meanwhile, Inter will be without Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic, with a late decision on Lautaro Martinez.

In addition to injury concerns, Inter enter Tuesday's game coming off a defeat to Roma, their fourth in eight Serie A games this season.

"That's not significant; it's still Inter," Xavi added, dismissing concerns about Inter's form. "They make an excellent team. They have a different system than what we've seen so far, a strong spine, and a good coach [in Simone Inzaghi]. They are formidable opponents."