Joan Laporta has been voted as FC Barcelona’s new president after winning 54% of the votes in an election where only 55,611 of the 109,531 eligible members voted. This is his second reign, with his first between 2003 and 2010 where the club won two Champions League, four La Liga titles and a Copa Del Rey as well as discovering Lionel Messi and bringing in Pep Guardiola as manager.
Laporta wants to bring in Mateu Alemany as sporting director, Jordi Cruyff as technical director and Victor Valdés as La Masia’s goalkeeper coach. However, he kept reiterating that he was going to get Lionel Messi to extend his stay. The new Barcelona president said to RAC1: “After greeting the club workers, I will be calling [Lionel] Messi. Will I convince him to stay? It will depend on him, I will do what I can, within the economic possibilities of the club, to make him stay.”
The Argentine has been at the club since 2000 and made his professional debut on October 16, 2004, at just 17 years and 114 days old. He has gone on to become arguably the best football player of all time, but his extortionate wages have become an issue for the club.
The club’s debt has exceeded £1.1 billion, although some of this is due to coronavirus, last summer it was at a still staggering £760 million. They have to pay £236 million back to the banks by June 30 but also £648 million on a short-term loan, meaning the club is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Messi earns a reported £54 million per year with an additional £13 million in bonuses from the club, unsurprisingly the highest earning athlete in the world. Despite handing in a transfer request last summer, Messi has repaid the faith the club had in him as a youngster. At the club, he has won:
6 Ballon d’Ors
6 European Golden Shoes
6 Copa del Reys
8 La Liga Best Player Awards
10 La Liga titles
4 Champions Leagues
3 FIFA Club World Cups
However, Messi handed in a transfer request. Then president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, refused to let the club captain go. They could have got his huge wages off the bill as well as recouping a transfer fee, rumoured to be £50 million, for him.
Obviously, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is worth more than that in normal circumstances however, it’s far from normal circumstances. The club need money and they need a squad rebuild meaning they should have sold Messi and either paid off some debt or reinvest some of the money into the squad.
This summer, they won’t get a transfer fee, but they should still let him go. It is highly unlikely they will be able to shift some of the players they are trying to like Philippe Coutinho or Martin Braithwaite, so they won’t be able to afford Messi’s wages.
The club’s top goal scorer leaving for free whilst the club is in financial peril and the stadium is falling apart, it’s far from a fairy-tale ending for Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona. However, it’s the reality of the situation for the Spanish giants as they need to get their new era underway.