Lionel Messi casts his vote as election polls open to decide next Barcelona president

Voting begins to establish 42nd president of Barcelona FC; Former president Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa on ballot to run until 2026; Barcelona recently had their Nou Camp offices raided by Catalan police with four former club officials arrested

Lionel Messi casts his vote at the 2021 Barcelona presidential elections (Image c/o FC Barcelona)
Image: Lionel Messi casts his vote at the 2021 Barcelona presidential elections (Image c/o FC Barcelona)

Lionel Messi has cast his vote in Barcelona's presidential elections.

Former president Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa - the three candidates to become the club's 42nd president - have also voted, with the result expected to be announced late on Sunday night.

The winner, who will take up the helm until 2026, will have implications for the future of Messi, who will decide at the end of the season whether he will sign another contract or leave his boyhood club on a free transfer.

Messi - a target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain - has publicly discussed his uncertainty over the club's direction, and hopes the next president of Barcelona has a clear plan to return them to former glory

GETTY - Lionel Messi arrived with his son as he cast his vote in the Barcelona presidential election 0:55
Lionel Messi arrived with his son as he cast his vote in the Barcelona presidential election (Pictures: Barca TV)

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who was was among four ex-Barcelona officials arrested in a corruption probe by Catalan police last weekend, has also cast his vote at the Nou Camp.

Bartomeu spent the night at a Catalan police station after being detained along with current chief executive Oscar Grau, director of legal services Gomez Ponti, and advisor to the president Jaume Masferrer.

Joan Laporta (Image c/o FC Barcelona)

Despite the scandal, Barca were looking to make the vote a positive occasion, hoping the next president can lay out a path back to domestic and European dominance; and one that will include their talisman Messi.

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By the opening of in-person voting at 9am on Sunday, more than 20,000 of the 110,290 members had cast theirs by postal ballot. The initial vote was supposed to take place on January 24 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sergio Busquets (Image c/o FC Barcelona)
Image: Sergio Busquets was one of several Barcelona first-team players to cast an early vote in the election (Image c/o FC Barcelona)

The club have set up six locations for voting in order to manage safe social distancing measures; at the Nou Camp, in Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa and Andorra.

Current first-team players Jordi Albia, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto have also cast their votes, as well as ex-defender Carlos Puyol and manager Carlos Unzue, with almost a third of members having voted by the mid-evening of Sunday.

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