Barcelona president: Joan Laporta highlights Lionel Messi relationship in bid for role

Frontrunner Victor Font will face competition from former Barcelona president Joan Laporta for the role vacated by Josep Maria Bartomeu; the election will take place on January 24, with resolving Lionel Messi's future a key concern for the two leading candidates

Joan Laporta
Image: Joan Laporta wants a second spell as Barcelona president

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has officially launched his bid for a second spell at the helm to fill the vacant role left by Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Laporta was initially Barca president from 2003 to 2010, a period which saw the Catalan club win four league titles and two Champions Leagues, while he was also responsible for hiring an inexperienced Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2008.

"I want to unite all Barca fans, it's our brotherhood and I want to lead the side to win again," he told a news conference.

"It has been a honour to me to be president of Barca. It was an honour… the best years of my life. And to be president once again will surely be the greatest challenge of my life."

Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his side's second goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League Group G stage match between Juventus and FC Barcelona 0:18
Joan Laporta launched his bid for a second spell as Barcelona president on Monday, in which he stressed the importance of keeping Lionel Messi at the club

Laporta will face competition for the presidential role from Victor Font, the current frontrunner for the January 24 election.

Font has expressed the importance of Lionel Messi staying at the club, and with the Argentine's contract expiring in the summer, Laporta outlined that his relationship with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner could convince him into signing a new deal.

"Nobody can doubt that Messi loves Barca and I have a relationship of mutual respect with him and we get on very well," said Laporta.

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"I think that the best thing he can do is wait until the elections and see what offer he gets from Barca. It would be me facing him under the same situation 12 years later. I think that with a good proposal Messi would choose Barca. Also, he knows me."

In May it was reported Laporta wanted Guardiola back at the club if he went on to replace Bartomeu, who resigned from his role in October before an expected vote of no confidence.

Guardiola has since signed a new two-year extension at Manchester City, and while Laporta admitted he hopes the former Barcelona head coach "returns one day", the presidential candidate stressed he has "respect" for current boss Ronald Koeman.

Pep Guardiola has signed a new deal until 2023
Image: Pep Guardiola has signed a new deal at Manchester City until 2023

"He [Koeman] is a big name in Barca," Laporta said. "And he has our respect. The respect allowed by his contract. And we should all be willing him to do a good job.

"We understand that he's arrived in a difficult situation. But he has margin. He is our coach and has a contract."

Addressing the prospect of club legend Xavi returning to the club, Laporta added: "I think Xavi is a man who knows a lot about football. He has centered his life around football. And will continue this way. Surely he will do it well. And I am sure that one day he will see his wishes achieved in Barca."

Barcelona are currently seventh in La Liga after winning four of their opening nine league games. They have won all four of their Champions League group matches and confirmed their place in the knockout stages with two games to spare.

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