Joan Laporta spoke openly and with transparency at a press conference this Friday morning, his first since re-election as Barcelona president. He discussed, amongst other things, the financial health of the club and Lionel Messi’s contract renewal.
“Messi’s new contract is going well, but it’s not done,” he said in comments carried by Diario Sport. Messi’s current deal ends this June 30th, and the player is already in Argentina with his national team. Laporta, however, stressed that his relationship with the Barcelona captain is excellent and is optimistic he’ll stay at Camp Nou.
“Before there was another president and now I’m here, and he likes that,” Laporta said. “He was disappointed with the previous president, but now he has another president who wants him to continue at Barcelona, and I’ve shown him [that]. That’s what’s changed.
“Leo wants Barcelona to think big; when we talk about a competitive team, it’s not a cliche. It’s something that has to be demonstrated. He wants proven experience, and with me as president he knows he has that. That’s Leo’s perception.”
Laporta confirmed that the club have offered Messi a contract within their means, conceding that the Argentine could and probably should earn more but underlining that his desire to help return Barcelona to where they belong will prove the most important thing. Above all else, Messi wants a sporting project he can get behind.
Barcelona want Messi to become a symbol of the club upon his retirement; for him to become a club ambassador or join the sporting sector once he hangs up his boots, perhaps with a couple of years in semi-retirement in the United States on the cards first. Contacts have intensified between the two parties these last couple of days, but an agreement is yet to be reached.