The former Barca supremo believes he has the upper hand to keep Lionel Messi at Camp Nou if he triumphs in the club’s elections
Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta says he will not be drawn into naming potential transfer targets like several of the candidates he is competing with.
An end to the tenure of Josep Maria Bartomeu – with whom Lionel Messi has had a tense relationship – as president in October has prompted the club to bring forward their elections to January 24.
The 33-year-old Messi sent shockwaves through the world of football when he expressed a desire to end his near two-decade association with the Blaugrana ahead of the 2020-21 season, but after a lengthy transfer saga, he opted to stay put.
However, the handling of Messi’s frustrations hastened the departure of Bartomeu, who was also at the centre of several on-field setbacks and off-field controversies.
Laporta, who served as Barca president between 2003 and 2010, is considered the leading candidate to triumph in the elections according to a poll in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Other candidates, though, have made bold claims about which players they will bring to Camp Nou if they were elected.
Laporta did say, though, that he believes he will be able to attract big names should he become Barca’s president.
“I have my own sports project. I will not fall into the trap of naming names,” he said.
“All the agents are calling me. I know them all and they want me to be president again, but I tell them that now I’m not talking about players or coaches.”
Laporta also believes Barca’s influence has diminished in recent years and he would seek to restore their standing.
“It has lost a lot of specific weight in the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga, UEFA, FIFA and in all the bodies that govern football,” he explained.
“Barca has to regain its credibility. We must have a presence to intervene in decision-making that affects football in general.”
Barcelona currently sit sixth in La Liga, 10 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid, who also have a game in hand.
Messi and co. will play their first match of 2021 on Sunday as they visit Huesca.