Soccer

Three reasons why Lionel Messi is more likely to stay at Barcelona with Joan Laporta as club president

Barcelona have their new president after electing Joan Laporta (one of the club’s former presidents) to the post on Sunday. The 58-year-old Spanish lawyer has many towering hurdles ahead, including handling the club’s serious financial crisis, rebuilding an expensive, aging and under-performing squad, and aiming to get them back to contending consistently Europe. But no task is as crucial as convincing superstar Lionel Messi to stay as the Argentine’s contract expires this summer, with both Manchester City and PSG linked to the player.

But what does Laporta winning the election mean for Barca’s chances of keeping Messi? Well, they certainly just increased, and here are three reasons why.

1. Relationship is already in place

Messi voted recently for the first time in the Barca elections. He’s usually on international duty with Argentina or back in his home country when elections take place during the summer. But following Josep Bartomeu’s resignation late last year, the elections were moved up to March, allowing the player to vote. 

And after Laporta (who previously held the role from 2003-2010) won convincingly, beating out second-place Victor Font by over 24 points, he was contacted by Messi. Laporta told Cataluya Radio that Messi congratulated him on the win.

Messi has not disclosed which candidate he voted for, but nearly everybody assumes it was Laporta, and the fact that they had contact so late in the day following the elections shows, in the very least, that there is already dialogue, there is still a friendship and there is still hope in convincing him to stay.

2. The partnership sees results

Messi and Laporta go way back, and he was the president when Messi made his professional debut for the club in 2004. While Laporta was president, Barca won everything. Oh, and he also gave a Barcelona B coach a shot. That guy was named Pep Guardiola, who is now trying to lure Messi to join him at Manchester City.

Under Laporta’s guidance, Barcelona won La Liga four times, won a Copa del Rey, a Club World Cup and more. Most importantly, Barca won two of their four Champions League titles with Messi while Laporta was president. Those two titles came in four years, and in the decade since he left, Barca won it just once.

Together, they had their best years, and that sweet taste of the past could help in embracing the future.

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3. A more promising future

Laporta isn’t taking over a Barca that looks like a 2021 Maserati. It looks more like poorly kept 1988 Ferrari. It’s just not what it once was. It’s been very serviceable for years, there are still some fully functioning parts, but upgrades are needed. Both Messi and Laporta know this team is not close to competing in Europe. They also both know that in order to compete, they must find a way to cut salary, get rid of players and rejuvenate a squad. That’s a task made even more difficult by the current financial situation they are experiencing. 

So it will take some convincing him that things will be better. Maybe that is by promising a new coach like Xavi or giving Messi some say in the transfers. Barcelona’s form the rest of the season will go a long way, too. Another trophy-less campaign could be the final straw, but some form of glory, like a Copa del Rey title, along with some sincere promises, could be enough for Messi to continue his legacy at the club and push for another Champions League run. 

There is no doubt Barca face an uphill battle in retaining Messi, but having a familiar face in Laporta gives them their best chance just months after feeling like they had none.



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