The former president hopes to retake control of Barcelona and has now addressed the uncertain future of the club’s star player.
Joan Laporta believes Lionel Messi still ‘loves Barcelona’ and outlined how he could convince ‘the best player in history’ to stay after confirming he will enter the presidential elections for a second term.
The Catalan politician, who originally ran as president between 2003 and 2010, is arguably one of the greatest ever to run Barcelona.
He restored the club’s old values by using home-grown players from the famed ‘La Masia’ academy during his first spell and appointed an inexperienced Pep Guardiola as manager in 2008, paving the way for a glory-laden era with Messi at the heart of it.
🗣️ — Joan Laporta: "I will never forget the look in the eyes of the 20-year-old kid when I told him that he will be the Barcelona captain and will wear the number 10 jersey one day." pic.twitter.com/0LCEW4DYhR
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 30, 2020
But the 33-year-old’s discontent with life at Camp Nou made him seek an exit last summer and he will be a free agent at the end of the season once his contract has expired.
“No one can have any doubt that Messi loves Barcelona, in our relationship we respect and love each other,” said Laporta in a press conference to announce his second club presidency bid as quoted by Goal.
“I have not spoken with him because I think it would not be convenient to speak without having the power to decide, the elections have to pass, I hope to have the confidence of the members to be president and then I’m sure we’ll talk but we haven’t done it yet.
“Leo loves Barcelona.”
Joan Laporta (Presidential candidate): "I'm running for elections because I love the club. We have the preparation, experience and determination necessary for the changes that the club need. We have a plan. The plan is to work." pic.twitter.com/MU68LitWGI
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) November 30, 2020
On what will be a key factor towards keeping Messi at the club, Laporta said: “Messi loves Barcelona, it is something that I know, no one can doubt it, my relationship with him is one of respect and esteem, of affection; I think the best thing for him is to wait and see who wins and what proposal is made to him.
“I hope I can tell you we are more convinced than ever that we have a good sports project, we want to recover all this and do it with Leo in the squad and the other excellent players we have.
“When I talk about motivation, I also believe that it is important that joy returns to convince the best player in history, I hope to arrive in time and that any pressure does not prevent this conversation from happening.”