Barcelona’s New President Elected, But Can He Convince Messi To Stay?

The election took place at a dire time for the club, which was
afflicted by legal issues and internal conflicts.

With 54.28 percent of the vote, Joan Laporta was elected as Barcelona‘s new president on Sunday, putting him in control of the club. It was in a dire state after his forerunner resigned in October and the covid hit the club finances very badly.

However, this is not the first time for Laporta with the club. Back in 2010, Joan handled the post, when Messi was beginning to gain some global fame.

As expected, Laporta convinced the voters, bringing his ties with Messi; claiming that he could prevent a summer transfer exit by the Argentine star. 

Many things have regulated since Laporta’s last term. But he’s confident of the correct strategy to renew Barcelona to the condition they savored a decade ago.

Who is Joan Laporta? 

Joan Laporta handled Barcelona’s presidency for seven years, starting from 2003 to 2010. Not to mention, he was widely recognized for his success. 

During his tenure, Barcelona was able to win four League titles and two Champion Leagues, promoting Andres Iniesta and Messi to the first team and bringing in key players such as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o through transfer. 

Now, after the election, Laporta will be in charge for the next five years i.e. until 2026. 

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Laporta pinned his campaign on Messi

For his second campaign, Laporta assured the voters that he could persuade a disgruntled Messi to stay because he had earned the forward’s trust.

In an interview with Goal, he stated and we quote, 

“The issue of Leo is easier than the stadium. It would be very nice to get to this (125-year anniversary of Camp Nou in 2024) with Messi, it would be good final fireworks.” 

Laporta defeated Font and Freixa for the post

The other two candidates were Victor Font and Toni Freixa in the election. Since Laporta was the fan-favorite, they had a tough competition.

Likewise, Font is also a member of the club’s board of directors who received 30% of the vote.

On the other hand, Freixa was formerly the organization’s spokesperson who received 9% of the vote.

Why did Josep Maria Bartomeu resign?

Barcelona’s former president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned last year during the ‘Barcagate’ scandal, which led to his arrest last week. Since then, he has been freed from custody.

Similarly, Bartomeu and his close associates have been accused of hiring a public relations firm to improve Bartomeu’s profile by disparaging the reputations of current and former players such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, and Xavi.

Barcelona elected new president
Former President, Josep Maria Bartomeu (Source: The New York Times)

These claims, along with the team’s financial woes, created a volatile environment.
In other felony cases, Bartomeu is presumed innocent unless proved guilty.

Financial Drought 

As of now, the club has a total debt of about $1.4 billion, which has resulted in controversial salary cuts for some players.

Due to a large amount of money owing, rumors of Messi and other high-paid members of the team being transferred have been circulating like wildfire online. 

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Will Messi stay? Will Laporta keep his promise? 

The Argentine striker made it known that he wanted to leave Barcelona at one stage, and in an exclusive interview, he shared his side of the story, sharing his dissatisfaction with Bartomeu’s leadership.

The Argentine player said, “I haven’t had fun in the club lately.”

The club’s debt could further complicate matters by limiting the amount of money they will give him in wages.

Messi’s contract ends this summer, so Laporta must work steadily to lock the deal even as the pandemic’s financial toll continues to mount.

Despite the many challenges, Laporta has shown trust in his ability to retain Messi, saying on the morning of the election, “I will call Jorge Messi tonight if I win.”

He also said that if he weren’t elected, Messi would leave.

Now, who is the new manager?

After electing Laporta, the candidates faced another problem with Ronald Koeman. They did not know whether to keep him or let him go. 

But Koeman may still be fired if the 2020-21 season fails to meet expectations. Laporta has yet to make a firm comment about Koeman’s long-term prospects

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