Laporta puts restoring ‘pride’ and keeping Messi at heart of his Barca presidential bid

December 1 – Joan Laporta, who led Barcelona between 2003 and 2010, and has announced that he will run for a second term as club president in succession to the much-maligned Josep Maria Bartomeu, says he is hopeful of convincing Lionel Messi to stay at the Nou Camp.

Laporta, who oversaw two Champions League titles as well as four league titles at Barca, says his relationship with Messi – widely assumed to be moving on at the end of his current contrast – gives him every chance of persuading the mercurial Argentine to stay on and sign a new deal.

“Messi loves Barca, nobody can doubt that,” said Laporta. “We have a relationship of respect and affection.

“The best thing for him is to wait to see who wins the election and then see what they propose. I think if he receives a good proposal he will stay.

“Everyone will believe they can convince Messi to stay.. It would be great to go on having the leadership of Messi on the pitch.”

With the Barca presidential elections not until January 24, Messi could theoretically hold talks with other clubs before then about joining next summer.

Yet Laporta has urged him to wait before making a decision on his future.

“It’s true that Messi wanted to leave this summer because he was very upset with the way he had been treated but I’m not going to get involved in that. Messi loves Barca and I’m sure he will give the club the opportunity. He wouldn’t move to Paris or Manchester for money.”

Although not the favourite to win the election, Laporta said he’s the candidate with the strongest affinity to Barcelona, who failed to win a single trophy last season, having been born and raised in the city.

“I’m running for elections because I love the club. We have the preparation, experience and determination necessary to make the required change and to bring Barcelona back to the top of world football.”

“There are millions of fans around the world who want another successful period. We have to recover the pride of Barcelona. I want to push the club to achieve this glory.”

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