Joan Laporta is gunning for the Barcelona presidency again, and has openly discussed the future of Man City boss Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi, saying he cannot imagine Lionel Messi playing for Manchester City.
Messi was on the verge of leaving Barcelona in the summer after a fall-out with the club’s hierarchy under former president Josep Maria Barthomeu, who have since all resigned, resulting in a new presidential election in January. Messi has since opted to stay at the Nou Camp for the present to avoid a costly legal battle to end his contract, with City touted to be his next most likely destination.
The Cityzens have since confirmed they are financially prepared to sign Messi should he look to leave next summer, despite manager Pep Guardiola recently reiterating his long-held desire that he wants Messi to end his career at Barcelona.
Unsurprisingly, and understandably, Messi’s future is the inevitable crux of the upcoming presidential election, with one of the frontrunners, Victor Font, positing that Guardiola returning to Barca could be key to keeping Messi at Camp Nou.
However, Joan Laporta, a former Barcelona president and the other frontrunning candidate in the upcoming election, does not see Messi or Guardiola leaving their current clubs.
“I can only imagine him in a Barça shirt,” Laporta is quoted as saying by the Mail, explaining that the Champions League could be the vital link in keeping the Argentine at Barca until he decides to hang up his boots.
“And I will do everything possible to make sure he continues to wear it with the number 10 on his back. I think it suits him very well.
“I know Leo and I think he just wants to keep playing, and focus on winning another Champions League. People say to me: “why don’t you talk to him?” But he already knows what I think.
“He knows that if I’m president the first thing I’ll do is to work out how I can convince him to stay until the end of his career.”
Laporta also went on to give his insight on why Messi was agitating to leave Barcelona in August, saying that he is confident of keeping Barca’s star player due to his close relationship with Messi and his representatives.
“With a competitive team, I do [believe Messi can keep playing for a long time.] With Leo it’s not a question of money. What he wants is to be in a team that can win the Champions League again.’
“What upsets Leo most is that they lied to him. I am lucky enough to be able to say that he has told me: ‘you have never lied to me. Always when you have proposed something to me, you have kept your word.’
“[The former board] made him the one who was responsible for everything, they stayed in the background and he did not have to put up with that.”
With regards to Guardiola, Laporta said he communicates regularly with the Spaniard he had appointed to become Barcelona boss in 2008 during his tenure as club president. However, he insisted that his plans do not include bringing Guardiola back to the Nou Camp while the latter is still committed to his job at City.
“With Pep I have an open line,” he said.
“He’s a friend, I talk to him, and he’s the best coach in the world. But I knew what his situation was at City. So, I never took that step.
“The problems we’ll face are so big now that I can’t be thinking about what could happen in years to come, even with a friend. I’m worried about Barça. I’m not worried about things that are external to the club.
“Obviously, I wish him and Txiki [Begiristain], and all those people I love who are there, all the best.”