Lionel Messi has been “repeatedly lied to” by Barcelona, according to Joan Laporta, who says he’s the only man that can convince the club captain to stay at Camp Nou. Speculation over Messi’s future is raging ahead of the January transfer window.
The Argentine will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with any potential suitors when the market reopens, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City reportedly poised to swoop for his signature.
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Messi pushed for a transfer during the summer before performing a dramatic U-turn, but he is now approaching the final six months of his current deal, and time is running out for Barca to tie a prized asset down to fresh terms.
Ex-Camp Nou president Laporta says the 33-year-old deserves assurances of a competitive new project, with the current squad considered to be below the required standard when it comes to winning the most prestigious trophies in the game. “I am sure Messi wants to continue at Barca,” The Spanish politician told ESPN. “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] has 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.
Laporta, who recently announced his candidacy for the next set of presidential elections at Barca in January, believes he is best placed to convince Messi that he should see out his playing days in Catalonia, having already gained his full “trust” during his first spell at the club.
“I don’t see Messi in a shirt that isn’t Barca’s,” he said. “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 on time. And I have an advantage: Messi’s trust. “He knows the offer I make will be real and I will fulfill it. I think that will help a lot and is an advantage over the other candidates.”
Laporta also addressed Barca’s precarious financial position amid the coronavirus crisis, with the club’s debt rising to almost €500 million (£459m/$611m) before the resignation of previous president Josep Bartomeu in October.
“The club is on the brink of bankruptcy,” he added. “That is one of the reasons why I am running. I did the same in 2003 to turn around a delicate situation. The magnitude is much bigger this time but the structure is the same. “The situation is difficult but, despite everything, we’re [the football club] that generates the most revenue. But we will have to find socios [club members] working in certain areas that can help us generate even more.
“The emergency plan we have is powerful, and I am sure it will work. The message is one of optimism. We can turn the situation around by reducing outgoings. We’re studying the restructuring of the debt, too.”