New Barcelona president Joan Laporta has vowed to bring positivity back to Camp Nou after winning Sunday’s election.
Laporta, who was first president between 2003 and 2010, was voted in to replace former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned back in October amid loud calls for his resignation.
Bartomeu has been accused of crippling Barcelona‘s finances and running the club into the ground, but Laporta insisted at his victory speech that he will be able to restore Barcelona to their former glory.
“My goals are for Barça to be economically sustainable again and for Barça to be happy again,” he said. “We have many challenges ahead of us and we will surely achieve them.
“We are a great family, we have a great feeling. We all have to work together to face the challenges ahead. What we can do most for Barça is to love it, to love it more than ever. Long live Barça and long live Catalonia.”
Unsurprisingly, the focus soon turned to the future of Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar, who was seen voting in Sunday’s election, will be out of contract at the end of the season, but Laporta insisted he will do all he can to keep Messi around for the foreseeable future.
“It’s 20 years since Messi first joined Barcelona, and seeing that the best player in the history of football has come to vote with his son and has participated in this Barça party means a lot,” he added.
“Messi loves Barça and that is very significant. And hopefully it will serve to encourage him to continue at Barça, which is what we all want.”
Laporta also discussed Messi’s future in an interview with TV3, adding: “I read that he has given us a lesson in love for Barça, he has shown that he loves the club.
“It is significant that he came to vote, and even more with his son. That means that he loves Barça and that he understands that we are a family. I know that he will value our proposal because he is fond of us.”
Tying Messi down to a new contract is obviously a high priority for Laporta, but the new president also stated that he does not want to forget about the current season and he wants to see the team challenge for silverware.
“The first thing I will do is congratulate the staff for what they have done these months, then encourage [Ronald] Koeman and the players and make it clear that the season is alive,” he continued. “We know that it’s a precarious situation, but we will reverse this to compete with Spanish teams and other sides across Europe.”