Former Blaugrana president has revealed he wants to be re-elected to ensure a six-time Golden Ball winner does not leave Catalonia
Lionel Messi has been “repeatedly lied to” by Barcelona, according to Joan Laporta, who says he is the only man who can convince the club’s captain to stay at the Camp Nou.
Speculation about Messi’s future is raging ahead of the January transfer window.
The Argentine will be free to negotiate a pre-contractual agreement with any potential suitors when the market reopens, as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City would be prepared to give in to his signing.
Messi requested a transfer in the summer before making a dramatic return, but now it is approaching the last six months of his current transaction, and time is running out for Barca to tie a valued asset to new conditions.
Former Camp Nou president Laporta says the 33-year-old deserves a new competitive project, as the current team is considered to be below the required standard when it comes to winning the most prestigious trophies in the game.
“I am sure Messi wants to continue at Barca,” said the Spanish politician ESPN. “It will depend on the proposal made by the new president.
“They have to see that there is a competitive team that renews the love story that Barca had with the Champions League, but which has been pending in recent years.
“[The club] they lied to him repeatedly and, on top of that, things didn’t go the way everyone wanted. He is at a point in his career where he still wants to be successful and win titles.
“He can’t continue to accept that other teams are winning the Champions League, and Barca, Lionel, the best player in the game’s history, doesn’t have a competitive enough team to win it.”
Laporta, who recently announced his candidacy for the next set of presidential elections at Barca in January, believes he is best placed to convince Messi that he should see his playing days in Catalonia, having already won. full confidence during his first spell at the club.
“I don’t see Messi in a shirt that is not Barca’s,” he said. “The story between him and the club is so beautiful that the incoming president is obliged to make sure he continues. I don’t see him playing for any other club. I see him in the Barca shirt.
“With the return of the club’s financial situation, the priority is to make a proposal to Lionel to convince him to stay. I hope to arrive on time. And I have an advantage: Messi’s trust.
“He knows that the offer I will make will be real and I will fulfill it. I think that will help a lot and it is an advantage over the other candidates.”
Laporta also addressed Barca’s precarious financial position amid the coronavirus crisis, with the club’s debt rising to almost 500 million euros (£ 459 million / $ 611 million) before the resignation of former president Josep Bartomeu in October.
“The club is on the verge of bankruptcy,” he added. “This is one of the reasons I am running. We did the same in 2003 to return to a delicate situation. The magnitude is much higher this time, but the structure is the same.
“The situation is difficult, but in spite of everyone, we are [the football club] which generates the most revenue. But we will have to find a partner [club members] working in certain areas that can help us generate even more.
“The contingency plan we have is strong and I am sure it will work. The message is one of optimism. We can turn the situation around by cutting spending. We are also studying debt restructuring.”