Barcelona presidential hopeful Joan Laporta remains confident that star player Lionel Messi will remain at the Camp Nou despite the club having “lied to him”.
The Argentine superstar was unsuccessful in his demands to leave the Blaugrana last summer but is now entering the final six months of his contract, with speculation over his future fierce.
Barcelona news has been defined by the Messi news this year because the club captain had been seeking an exit, although the club stood firm on his future last summer.
Messi, who turns 34 next summer, has remained an emblematic star for the Catalan club for whom he has netted 643 goals in a total of 748 first-team appearances – including nine in 17 appearances this season.
Laporta – who is one of the frontrunners for the club presidential elections, to be held on 24 January 2021 – told an interview with ESPN: “I am sure Messi wants to continue at Barca. It will depend on the proposal that the new president makes him. He needs to see that there is a competitive team to reignite the love story Barca had with the Champions League but which has been on hold in recent years.
“[The club] have repeatedly lied to him and, on top of that, things haven’t gone as everyone wanted. He is at a point in his career where he still wants to be successful and win titles.
“He cannot keep accepting that other teams win the Champions League and Barca, with Lionel, the best player in the history of the game, do not have a team competitive enough to be able to win it.”
Whilst the club have declined with results on the pitch in recent months, Laporta remains confident that if he is elected – Messi will remain as a Barcelona player.
“I don’t see Messi in a shirt that isn’t Barca’s,” Laporta added. “The story between him and the club is so beautiful that the incoming president is obliged to make sure it continues. I don’t see him playing for any other club. I see him in the Barca shirt.
“Along with turning around the club’s financial situation, the priority is to make a proposal to Lionel that convinces him to stay. I hope I arrive in time. And I have an advantage: Messi’s trust.
“He knows the offer I make will be real and I will fulfil it. I think that will help a lot and is an advantage over the other candidates.”