Moderately optimistic that Lionel Messi will stay in Barcelona, says president Joan Laporta
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Friday he was “moderately optimistic”. Lionel Messi will stay but would not guarantee Ronald Koeman’s future, with further talks planned between the club and the coach next week.
Laporta also remained suspicious of Barca’s continued membership in the European Super League, insisting he would not apologize and take UEFA to court if fines were imposed on the three remaining clubs.
Messi’s contract expires this summer, allowing the Argentine to leave for free. Laporta admitted Barca’s offer would be held back by the club’s financial woes, but insisted the talks “are going well”.
“We can make an offer within our means,” Laporta said at his first press conference since being elected president in March.
“He deserves more and could get a better deal elsewhere, but I have no doubts that he appreciates the efforts we are making. I think he wants to stay. For Leo, it’s not about the money, it’s about winning. And that’s what we’re working on.
Asked about his optimism about keeping Messi, Laporta replied: “Moderately optimistic.” He added: “The new contract is going well but it’s not done yet.”
Laporta also spoke to Koeman this week, with the Dutchman’s future uncertain after a disappointing end to the season.
Koeman still has a year on his contract after being appointed only last year.
“We have always worked with great respect for Koeman,” said Laporta.
“He still has a contract in place. We don’t believe in transition projects or seasons. We have spoken to Koeman and will continue to speak to him next week before making a decision.
Laporta said Koeman recently went to the hospital with a heart problem and it was important not to rush decisions.
“We are trying to come to an agreement on what we want for next season,” added Laporta.
Pep Guardiola and Xavi Hernandez have both been mentioned as possible successors if Koeman leaves.
When asked if it was his dream to bring Guardiola back, Laporta said, “I’m not here to talk about dreams, I’m here to talk about reality.”
‘We will not apologize’
He was also asked about Barcelona’s continued involvement in the Europan Super League, although nine of the 12 founding clubs have abandoned the project. Real Madrid and Juventus also remain attached.
The nine clubs that left accepted fines and agreed to enter current UEFA competitions, but European football’s governing body has opened separate disciplinary proceedings against Barca, Madrid and Juventus.
“We are not going to apologize and we have no intention of paying a fine,” Laporta said. “It has no justification. If they fined us, we will go to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for sport) and I’m sure we’ll win. European law means that we are legally authorized to create new competitions. “
Laporta also defended the decision to register.
“When I arrived, the project was already very advanced but it was important for Barça to get involved. Barca will never stay on the sidelines when it comes to new moves in the world of football.
Barcelona have debts of 1.2 billion euros ($ 1.46 billion), which will restrict its activity in the transfer window.
Laporta said new signings would be announced next week, with Sergio Aguero set to join a free transfer from Manchester City. He admitted they would be looking for player swap and loan deals this summer.
He said the financial picture will be clearer when an audit is completed in July, but admitted some of the findings so far have been “worrying” and “surprising”.
“We are fighting to reverse this economic situation,” said Laporta. “In a year and a half, maximum two seasons, our club will be in good financial health again.”