Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has vowed to do everything he can to keep Lionel Messi at the club if he is elected.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner dropped a bombshell on the world of football last summer, announcing that he wanted to leave Barcelona following a feud with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu. It was believed that he had lost faith in the club being able to compete for major honours.
This sent the rumour mill flying, with moves to Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and the MLS all being heavily touted in the press. Messi ended up staying at the Catalan giants, although it is unclear whether he intends to remain there beyond the end of his contract in the summer.
Messi’s future could depend on the upcoming presidential elections at the club. Following protests against his rule, Bartomeu resigned in October. Elections for a new president are set to take place in January 2021.
Laporta had immense success as Barcelona president from 2003 to 2010, overseeing four La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs. It was under his rule that Messi made his professional debut in 2004.
Speaking to Goal, the 58-year-old said: “It is very important, on a priority level. Great players have passed through Barcelona, the best in their time, but Leo (Messi) is special.
“He is the best in the world and surely in history, which is why he is so valued. The issue is so important for Barcelona that we have to do whatever it takes to maintain harmony.
“He wants to win the Champions League again with Barcelona and we have to make him see that this will be possible.”
Laporta hopes that Messi will stick around long enough for the club’s 125th anniversary in three years.
“I wish we could celebrate the 125th anniversary at the new Camp Nou and with Leo with us,” he continued. “It would be very nice to get to this anniversary with Messi, it would be good final fireworks.”