(Harry How/Getty Images)Lionel Messi could make a sensational return to Barcelona in the January transfer window if Inter Miami don't make the Eastern Conference playoffs.That's according to Spanish outlet AS, which has suggested that the 36-year-old World Cup winner will be free to head back to Spotify Camp Nou in January on loan for a proper send-off at the club where he spent 17 years.Messi has been keen to return since his departure to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. Before his move to Inter Miami, Messi admitted he had held discussions with Barca, but the club's financial restrictions made a move too complicated.Inter Miami are five points adrift of playoffs with only three matches left, though they have at least one game in hand over the teams they need to leapfrog. The MLS regular season ends on Oct. 21, at which point Messi's season would be over if Miami miss playoffs. Messi has had an explosive impact, but he was injured in the international break last month and has missed four of his club's last five games to hamper hopes of a late surge for the playoffs. Even so, Messi has been named in the squad for Argentina's next two World Cup qualifying matches despite the leg injury.Moreover, Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas even hinted that he wouldn't stand in Messi's way if he could seal his dream return to Spain.The 36-year-old is contracted to Inter Miami until 2025 but, according to reports, he has no interest in extending his stay in MLS and will then return to Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland.