Joan Laporta has promised to do everything he can to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona, as well as offering an assurance to head coach Ronald Koeman amid speculation over his future. Laporta was officially unveiled as Barca’s new president at a ceremony on Wednesday, having seen off competition from Victor Font and Toni Freixa during an election staged on March 7. It will be his second time in the role at Camp Nou; his previous stint from 2003 and 2010 saw the club win LaLiga on four occasions, as well as the Champions League twice.
However, he returns now with Barcelona dealing with financial issues off the field and great uncertainty over the future of their best player, the talismanic Messi.
The club’s all-time leading scorer is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, though Laporta is determined to retain the “best player in history”.
“I’ll do everything I can to try to convince Leo to stay,” he said in a speech that covered a wide range of topics, including the importance of the club’s academy system.
“We will try because he’s the best player in history and, sorry for telling you here, but you know how much I love you, and Barca also loves you.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 17, 2021
Messi has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season under Koeman, who has Barca in contention for the league title in Spain following a shaky start to his debut campaign in charge.
They are also through to the Copa del Rey final – Athletic Bilbao will be their opponents on April 17 – but hopes of Champions League glory were dashed by PSG at the last-16 stage.
Still, with the team on a 17-game unbeaten streak in LaLiga, Laporta made clear his confidence in Koeman, who – like Messi – was present inside the ground for the event.
“Ronald, you have our confidence,” he said.
“We want to go back to that success story between Barca and the Champions League. This year we have to go for LaLiga and for the cup.”
Laporta described Barca as an “engine for optimism” despite their current financial plight, something he will be prioritising at the start of his new reign.
“The economic situation is a priority for us,” Laporta announced. “We have the priority of making the club economically sustainable.
“We have a shock plan for it. The situation does not scare us. The people who accompany us are not scared by these things.
“If we have to make decisions in the interest of Barca, we will make them.”