Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Thursday he understood Lionel Messi's desire to avoid the "pressure" of a return to the Catalan giants this summer.
Messi, 35, announced Wednesday he will play at American side Inter Miami in Major League Soccer after ending his two-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain.
The Argentine playmaker, a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, had options to return to the Catalan club where he carved out his legacy, or take a megabucks move to Saudi Arabia.
"He hasn't had a good time in these two years (in Paris) and now he doesn't want that type of pressure," Xavi said on Twitch.
"It's a personal decision and the circumstances didn't help, but the decision is Leo's and we have to respect it, he's the best in history."
Xavi said he had spoken a lot with Messi over the past few months but he noticed "a change" over the past few days.
"Maybe he didn't see it so clearly, and you have to respect that -- many times we don't put ourselves in the shoes of others, we lack empathy and being Leo can't be an easy thing," said Xavi.
"Imagine Messi, in the focus he's got on him, he's never got calm, he has to behave perfectly, he has to be perfect on the pitch, he has to be the best in every way."