New president Laporta sees ‘clear sign’ Messi will stay – ‘The best player in the world loves Barca!’

Top priority for the club’s elected leader is keeping his star from bolting this summer on a free transfer

After Barcelona’s presidential election on Sunday, Joan Laporta again focused on his top campaign priority – convincing Lionel Messi to stay at the Catalan club.

He claimed it was a “very telling” moment to see Messi vote in the election because it confirmed the forward’s enduring love for his boyhood side.

Laporta’s relationship with Messi dates back decades, as he was previously president from 2003-10. He used his connection with the Argentinian to sway voters he was the perfect person for the presidential position at a perilous moment for Barcelona.

What has Laporta said about Messi?

“Seeing Lionel Messi coming to vote today, seeing him taking part, that is very telling,” Laporta said in a press conference.

“Twenty years ago [he] made his debut with Barca’s youth team. Seeing the best player in the world come out to vote today is a clear sign of what we keep saying. Leo loves Barca.

“The best player in the world loves Barca and I hope that is a sign that he will stay at Barcelona, which is what we all want.”

Messi’s contract status

His contract is up this summer, leaving little time for Laporta to make the case the attacker should re-commit to Barcelona.

Messi’s expiring deal, signed in 2017, is worth a reported €555 million (£491m/$674m).

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