Barcelona president Joan Laporta officially took over at the Camp Nou on Wednesday and got to work straight away by addressing the futures of coach Ronald Koeman and captain Lionel Messi.
Laporta spoke about Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season, during his inauguration and made it clear just how hard he will work to keep hold of the Argentine, as reported by ESPN’s Samuel Marsden.
“I will try to convince Messi to stay,” he said. “Sorry Leo, but you know I love you, that Barça loves you, and if this stadium was full when you play, you wouldn’t want to leave. Whatever you do is fine, but I will try…”
Laporta has already started work on a new contract for Messi, according to Albert Ortega at El Confidencial. The contract renewal is not at all straightforward as Barca’s debt currently stands at over $1 billion, as reported by ESPN.
Ortega reports that Messi will need to accept a 30 percent pay-cut to stay but will be offered a “contract for life.” The deal will allow him to remain actively involved with the club once he has finally hung up his boots.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Laporta Backs Koeman
Laporta also addressed the subject of Koeman directly during Wednesday’s ceremony at the Camp Nou and made it clear the Dutchman has his complete backing.
Koeman only signed a two-year deal when he arrived as Quique Setien’s replacement last season which has prompted speculation over his future at the Camp Nou.
The club’s new president also spoke about his hope that the team will not end a second straight season without a trophy, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Ronald (Koeman), you have the confidence of this board, the team has improved and we have to try to win again,” he said. “If we recover our economic level, we will be competitive again in the Champions League. We can win the League and the Cup.”
Barcelona is currently second in the table and just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with 11 games left to play. The Catalan giants also take on Athletic Club in the final of the Copa del Rey on April 17.
Messi & Pique Welcome Laporta
Many of the current Barcelona players will already know Laporta well as this is the second time he has been elected as president. The Spaniard previously took office between 2003-2010 and oversaw a period of huge success at the Camp Nou.
Messi is one such player and offered a warm greeting to the 58-year-old before his speech.
Center-back Gerard Pique was also spotted warmly embracing Laporta at the Camp Nou, as shown by journalist Maite Jiménez.
It’s still not known what Messi plans to do next but Laporta has made it clear he will do all he can to keep hold of the Barca superstar. Meanwhile, fans and players will be hoping that Laporta can also help the club recover financially and go on to enjoy more success on the pitch after a chaotic spell under former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.