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Barcelona’s presidential candidate, Joan Laporta, said he is the best placed man to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the Camp Nou.
Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and Argentina’s long-term future with Barça remains unclear.
The 33-year-old shocked the football world when he expressed his desire to end his nearly two-decade association with the Blaugrana before the 2020-21 season, but after a long transfer saga, he chose to stay.
The end of the mandate of Josep Maria Bartomeu – with whom Messi has had a tense relationship – as president in October has led the club to advance its elections to January 24.
Laporta, who served as president of Barça between 2003 and 2010, is considered the main candidate to triumph in the elections according to a survey by the Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Since their debut in October 2004, Barça have won 55.9% of their LaLiga matches without Messi (they won 66, drew 39 and lost 22), compared to 73.7% with him on the side (they won 368, tied 83 and lost 48).
And Laporta believes that his own personal relationship with Messi elevates him above other presidential candidates.
“I see [Messi] as positive because he said he will wait until the end of the season, and that gives us time to make a convincing proposal, “Laporta told Marca.
“And I have an advantage, with Leo I have credibility. He always tells me that everything I promised him was fulfilled. You know that if I give my word, I keep it.
“We lost great opportunities to have the best player in the world. At Barça there are no transition years.
“We should have won more Champions, we hope to resume that Barça success story with the competition. By the way, during my [previous] Madrid did not win any ”.
FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 2, 2021
Other candidates have made bold claims about which players they will bring to the Camp Nou if they are elected.
Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland plus Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappé have been the most prominent names, but Laporta will not be drawn to transfer goals.
“I have my own sports project. I will not fall into the trap of naming, “he added.
“All the agents are calling me. I know them all and they want me to be president again, but I tell them that now I am not talking about players or coaches.
Laporta also believes that Barça’s influence has waned in recent years and would seek to restore his position.
“He has lost a lot of specific weight in the Spanish Football Federation, LaLiga, UEFA, FIFA and in all the bodies that govern football,” he explained.
“Barça has to regain its credibility. We must have a presence to intervene in decision-making that affect football in general ”.