Barcelona won their last Champions League in 2015. Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez ruled the field; Luis Enrique, on the bench. Since then, Barça has jumped in Europe from frustration to humiliation. Roma fired him 3-0 in 2018, Liverpool’s win in 2019 was memorable (4-0) and not to mention Bayern’s tremendous slap in 2020: 2-8. Last season nothing changed: a 5-2 aggregate against PSG in the round of 16. And Joan Laporta, in essence a winner (or, at least, he thinks so), got tired. “Enough of certain attitudes that nothing happens if we lose. Yes that happens ”, said this Friday the Barcelona president in his first official appearance since he won the elections in March. I wanted to talk. Fundamentally, he sought to ask for calm. He wants patience in the environment and time in the new board of directors, who needs to know what he has in the box and then analyze how he distributes it.
Although optimistic, Laporta does not stop remembering Barcelona’s recent past. “We have reached the middle of the season and we have to finish a project that was not working and, at the same time, create our own. A project that will give Barcelona fans a lot of happiness and that will turn around the economic situation that we have found ourselves in, ”he explained at the outset. And, while he waits for the closing date of the audit – “it will end in July”, he clarified – Barça’s finances are the cornerstone of Laporta’s plan, whose main objective is to renew Lionel Messi and wash the face of the squad . The president, however, is ambiguous about the future of Ronald Koeman.
He dodges, in his style, with jokes and eternal phrases, when asked about Pep Guardiola and Xavi Hernández, but instead he is direct when the name of Ronald Koeman appears: “He is a coach that we have met and has a contract” , he clarified. He did not hide, from the outset, his suspicion with what he inherited on the bench. Then he backed off: “Don’t discount Koeman. Ronald responds to the profile ”. Laporta needs time. Time for the pressure to drop, while he and his team find (if they can) the best option to take the reins of the first team. “With Koeman the relationship is very good, one of respect and of speaking clearly. It is about sharing objectives and criteria. He wants to continue and we are in a period of reflection to find a satisfactory situation for all. If we share everything, of course it can continue ”, concluded the president.
But Laporta is not the only one who is suspicious of Koeman at Barcelona. Although the relationship with the heavyweights is good – “he only talks to eight players”, they complain in the locker room – the squad also doubts the Dutchman’s ability to solve his problems on the pitch.
And while Koeman’s future is debated, Messi’s contract remains up in the air. “The new contract with Leo is going well, but it is not done yet. From the presidency we are working on a proposal that within the possibilities of the club can please the player ”, said Laporta. On the 10th, he left for Argentina on Tuesday to play the first two games of the South American qualifiers for Qatar 2022 (Chile and Colombia) and then he will participate in the Copa América, which begins on June 12 and ends on July 11. At that point, Messi’s contract with Barça will already have expired. He does it on June 30. Rosario’s father and representative is still in Barcelona. And it is not by chance.
Jorge Messi, attentive to the public appearance of the president of Barça, is negotiating his son’s new contract. ”Leo asks for affection and to feel comfortable. Be at ease and smile, but for this you must win. Therefore, you must see that you can win. That has him in a process of reflection, but he is putting a lot on his part. I think he is very appreciative of the effort he has made and I think he is very excited to continue, “said Laporta, who was careful not to clarify whether the club’s offer had been officially presented to the Rosario’s family.
Laporta knows the Messi. “What changed in Messi from when he sent the burofax [en agosto de 2020 pidió marcharse del club] at the present time? ”, they asked the top Barça manager. “Before there was another president and now I am. And he likes that. With the other president he was disappointed and now he has a president who loves him and tells him so. Messi wants Barça to think big and this has to be proven. He wants proven success, motivation and demand. With me, it does. And that’s why he’s helping us, ”Laporta took out his chest.
In any case, he made an argument in which he was clear about Messi’s future: “It is not a matter of money, it is a matter of a team project. We are with a moderate optimism ”.
The problem for Barcelona is that if the future of Rosario had to be resolved with tickets, they could not retain it. “We have the wage bill at 110% of the expected income. That will have to be adjusted. Now we do not meet the fair play financial. We must reduce expenses and increase income, “said Laporta, who revealed that he is negotiating with Rakuten to renew his contract, which is seeking an agreement on the name rights for the stadium and other sources of income that allow him” to be optimistic. And he detailed the economic situation: “We have 1,200 million in debt and 350 million in losses. We are fighting to reverse the financial situation and we are sure that we will succeed ”. Laporta is convinced that he will get money, he believes that he can renew Messi, but, instead, he doubts with Koeman. In the meantime, save time.