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Lionel Messi is still the best player in the world and he deserves a big money contract to reflect that, according to presidential candidate Joan Laporta, who has also endorsed head coach Ronald Koeman.
The Argentine international was inclined to join Premier League Manchester City, led by former Barça manager Pep Guardiola, after submitting a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign.
He opted to stay in Catalonia, where he has spent his entire career to date, but is out of contract in June and has been linked to French champion Paris Saint-Germain and Italian giants Inter ever since.
Barcelona’s interim president Carlos Tusquets made headlines last week by suggesting that the club should have cashed in on Messi due to the economic consequences caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Laporta, who aspires to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu as Barça’s next president in the January elections, has taken a different stance and believes Messi is worth every penny they pay him.
“Many reasons could be argued for him to stay. I prefer to think about what Leo generates, which is a lot, certainly more than what his salary can cost, “Laporta told Sport. “I am not just referring to the sporting level, which is already well known.
10 years ago, Barça made history.
FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 6, 2020
“I consider him the best footballer in history. Leo is much more than that. In my opinion, all players, when they win many titles and generate so much for the club, deserve to be valued accordingly.
“At least that’s how I’ll try to make it happen. Leo is, I repeat, the best player in the world and possibly in the history of football. The thing to keep in mind is that he loves Barça and has shown it repeatedly.
“He is a club man and feels comfortable in Barcelona and in the city. That is another factor that leads us to think that the best thing for us is for the Messi-Barcelona relationship to continue ”.
However, reiterating comments he made earlier, Laporta acknowledged that it will take more than money to persuade six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to sign a contract extension at Camp Nou.
“You have to be imaginative,” he said. “Saber Mess is not guided by money, and I assure you that it is, we must make a proposal that can convince him that Barça has a team capable of winning the Champions League.
“That is essential. It is what will be most valuable to Leo when deciding his future at the end of the season. I am convinced of that.
“Leo and I have a relationship of mutual affection. He knows that whenever I have made him a proposal, it has been fulfilled. Leo knows this and has told me personally that he values it very much. He should finish his career at Barça ”.
Messi has scored four goals in 10 LaLiga appearances this season and seven in 13 overall, with Koeman knocking the forward out of the squad and his starting lineup multiple times this season.
Barça beat Dynamo Kiev 4-0 and Ferencvaros 3-0 in their last two games without Messi’s participation, although Laporta’s presidential candidate, Victor Font, insisted that the 33-year-old’s ability cannot be questioned. .
14 – Barcelona have won just 14 points in their first 10 LaLiga games this season, their lowest record at this stage since the 1987/88 season (13, three points per win), the campaign before the arrival of Johan Cruyff to Barcelona as coach. History. pic.twitter.com/gphAEr5EEg
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 5, 2020
“It makes me suffer that there are some Barcelona fans who doubt Messi,” he told El Iniestazo. “We have to appeal to justice and think about everything Messi has given us. If we stop and look back, we’ll never see it again.
“You have to ask yourself how is Messi not to be in the club he loves the most. Some lose trust in him but he doesn’t deserve it. If they appoint me president, Messi will renew at the end of the season ”.
Coach Koeman’s future has been another hot topic of debate at the Camp Nou after the worst start to the LaLiga campaign in 33 years in terms of accumulated points after 10 games.
Koeman is already under increasing pressure, just four months after being named Quique Setien’s successor, but Laporta feels the legendary former player should have time to make things right.
“He deserves a margin of confidence, not only because of his wisdom at football level, but also because he is a great Barça,” Laporta said.
“As part of the Dream Team, Ronald gave us good memories and his famous goal gave us our first Champions League. He knows what he’s doing and you have to give him time.
“He and I see that the team is improving, but nothing has been achieved yet. I appreciate the courage when it comes to betting on the younger players and I see that the players are motivated again.
“He has had to deal with many delicate aspects since he arrived. He’s in the process of getting the team he wants ”.