'Messi loves Barcelona' - Laporta confident Argentine superstar will stay as he announces second club presidency bid

A man who is vying for the top job in the Camp Nou boardroom is optimistic that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner can be convinced to stick around

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Lionel Messi "loves Barcelona", according to Joan Laporta, who expressed his confidence that the Argentine superstar will stay after announcing his second club presidency bid.

Speculation over Messi's future at Camp Nou is raging as he approaches the final six months of his current contract.

The 33-year-old tried to secure a way out of Catalunya in August following a humiliating Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich, but saw his exit path blocked by Blaugrana and La Liga officials.

Although he agreed to remain on Barca's books for at least one more season , rumours of a possible move to Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 continue to overshadow his exploits on the pitch at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned along with the rest of the board of directors in October after being blamed for the team's recent failings, and elections to appoint his successor are due to take place on January 24.

Laporta, whose first spell in charge between 2003 and 2010 garnered unprecedented success, announced his candidacy for a second term on Monday, before addressing Messi's current situation.

"No one can have any doubt that Messi loves Barcelona, ​​in our relationship we respect and love each other," the 58-year-old told a press conference.

"I have not spoken with him because I think it would not be convenient to speak without having the power to decide, the elections have to pass, I hope to have the confidence of the members to be president and then I'm sure we'll talk but we haven't done it yet.

Laporta added on the need to ensure that Messi remains comfortable in his current surroundings amid talk of a possible switch to England or France: "He lives in a place where his whole family is comfortable and there is not much to encourage leaving a city like this, it is a kind of life that is very good for them.

"[Change it for Paris or Manchester?] well, it is not a question of money but we have to rise to the occasion and we must give them an almost familiar treatment, esteem and professional appreciation.

"I think there will be time to talk, although the calendar and the dynamics are what they are, if they had been before the elections, agreements could have been reached earlier."

Asked what is the most important factor in convincing Messi to see out his playing days at Camp Nou, Laporta responded: "Messi loves Barcelona, ​​it is something that I know, no one can doubt it, my relationship with him is one of respect and esteem, of affection; I think the best thing for him is to wait and see who wins and what proposal is made to him.

"I hope I can tell you we are more convinced than ever that we have a good sports project, we want to recover all this and do it with Leo in the squad and the other excellent players we have.

"When I talk about motivation I also believe that it is important that joy returns to convince the best player in history, I hope to arrive in time and that any pressure does not prevent this conversation from happening."

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