Love him or hate him, Joan Laporta gets things done. The Catalan was elected as Barcelona president at the beginning of the year for the second time, having previously led the club between 2003 and 2010. Since then, he’s moved decisively and ruthlessly, clearly determined to return Barcelona to the top table of European football.
Barcelona are a club that generate an incredible amount of income, but the root of that financial success is found in the success of its football team. It’s a mistake to, like Manchester United have done in recent times, focus on commercial performance first and football second. Barcelona are a titanic commercial presence globally because they’ve produced phenomenal football teams over the last 20 years.
That will be the primary focus of this piece; football decisions. Much has been made of Barcelona’s involvement in the Super League project, something Laporta inherited from the disgraced Josep Maria Bartomeu, his predecessor. Laporta has always defensively maintained that he’d put the decision to Barcelona’s members before it would be cast in stone, and been noticeably more reticent on the topic than the more bombastic Florentino Perez. But that’s a whole other story.
Regarding sporting matters, Laporta has been smart and aggressive. Just this past week three new signings landed in Catalonia; Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia joined from Manchester City as free agents, while Emerson joined from Real Betis. Gini Wijnaldum had been predicted to join soon, also as a free agent, from Liverpool, although it seems Paris Saint-Germain have stolen a march there.
Memphis Depay, yet another free agent, also seems to be on the verge of joining from Lyon; a team is being constructed that could be so exciting it’d be worth purchasing a VPN for streaming to watch them in action. What can such a tool do? Well, it hides your IP address and unblocks access to a variety of streaming services. Then, you can watch any content you like regardless of where you are. For instance, you’ll never miss a match while travelling abroad!
Laporta has also refreshed footballing operations beyond the playing squad. He was open and cold-blooded in looking for a superior option to Ronald Koeman, only to eventually realise that the Dutchman is the best man to lead the club for the time being and confirm his continuity for next season. Jordi Cruyff, son of the mythical Johan Cruyff, who himself was an important Laporta ally during his previous stint as president, has also joined the club as a sporting director, reinforcing that cultural aspect all-important to Barcelona.
Laporta also looks to be adopting an aggressive posture regarding the so-called sacred cows at the club. Several high-earners, previously untouchable, will have to reduce their salaries or be sold to balance the books and free up funds for fresh blood. Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba fall into this category. Laporta knows there’s no room for sentiment in elite sport, and will do what it takes to get Barcelona back to being a lean and mean machine.
All is done, in part, at the behest of Lionel Messi. The Barcelona captain’s contract expires at the end of this month and he’s yet to renew, currently away with Argentina at the Copa America in Brazil. An offer is on the table and, at this stage, it seems more likely he’ll continue at the club than leave. But what he wants most of all is a competitive sporting project, to lead a team capable of winning the Champions League, a title Messi hasn’t claimed since 2015. Laporta, to his credit, is doing all he can to deliver it.