February 18 – Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has vowed to do all he can to keep Lionel Messi at the club despite another humiliating night in the Champions League.
Messi famously asked to quit following last season’s 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich and looked a forlorn figure after Barca were trounced 4-1 at home by Paris St Germain on Tuesday night.
Messi’s contract expires in the summer and off the field Barca are in dire financial straits with eye-watering debts placed at around €1.173 billion, with €730 million of that sum due in the short term and €266 million owed to the banks by June 30..
But Laporta, running to become Barcelona’s president for the second time having served a seven-year stint between 2003 and 2010 in which the club twice won the Champions League, says he is the candidate who can persuade Messi not to finish his career elsewhere.
Speaking following the defeat to PSG, Laporta said: “Messi wants to win with Barcelona. I’ll do my best to keep him, there are some clubs really interested in signing him… but Leo wants to win titles, not just to earn money.”
Messi is said to be furious that details of his contract were leaked in the Spanish press in recent weeks and members of his entourage believe it’s part of a smear campaign to turn supporters against the Argentine.
Laporta insists Messi’s wages are more than matched by how much he provides. “He makes more money than he costs, much more. Messi’s cost represents 8% of the club’s total income, while he generates around 30% of the income. Messi is very profitable for Barcelona, but the most important thing is the emotional return he gives us.”
“Giving him affection is very important,” Laporta told Sky Sport Italia. “He has to be loved. And he has to be valued with an economic offer that makes him feel valued, but he’s not led by money.
“He’s a winner. What he wants is to win again, with Barcelona. I’m going to do everything I can to keep him.”
Seemingly referring to the likes of suitors Paris St Germain and Manchester City, Laporta added: “Our competitors are state clubs, they are making offers. We have to be clear that money doesn’t guarantee titles, and Leo is more about winning titles than making money.”
“It’s priceless when you ask a young boy or girl who their favourite player is and they immediately say Messi.”
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