As we head closer to January, there are several things weighing on the minds of Barcelona fans. Things like will the club will sign a striker, or a central defender? When and if will Ronald Koeman be sacked? Who will Lionel Messi negotiate with? But most importantly, who will win the presidential elections?
The Barcelona elections for the spot of president will be held on 24th January 2021, and there seem to be two clear front-runners for this marathon – Joan Laporta and Victor Font. Both men have promised several things in their campaigns, with each statement sounding most promising than the previous one.
Laporta, once president of Barcelona, during their most glorious ever run, sat down in an interview with Catalan radio RAC1 to discuss his promising project, covering a plethora of topics ranging from the coach, the captain, Font, and much more.
On his project – Estimem el Barça
Joan Laporta calls his project Estimem el Barça, which roughly translates to ‘We Love Barça’. He promises to restore Barcelona to its glorious strength of the golden era, and in addition to this, his banners contain a slogan going by Ganas de Volver a Veros. He talked about this saying:
“From the first moment, I was very clear about the idea of the banner. The phrase ‘desire to come back to see’ is mine. I received many messages, the Catalans were excited, they thought ‘today we have regained self-esteem.’ I know the players were very happy. “
“The banner is a sign of strength, courage and to tell members and fans that we will turn it around with optimism and determination. We want Barcelona to end the fears that this situation may entail, Barça will not become a public limited company.”
He then spoke about his project in gist, and the core principles of the same. Laporta is yet to release specific details about his project but has dropped various subtle hints.
“I propose the model of a brave, winning Barça, who wants to re-establish themselves in the victory. An uncomplicated Barça, this has always been my idea. Rigor, responsibility and work, work and work well. I will do this to be able to win again “
Laporta was asked about the Catalan independence issue, and how his Barcelona will view the situation, to which he replied, “Independence? Barça will be at the service of all Barça fans, no matter how they think. There are various sensibilities, mine is obvious, and I will continue to think what I think. My Barça has always been at the pace of the country.”
There have been talks for years of the possibility of the Spanish national team playing at the Camp Nou. The team currently plays its home games at the Santiago Bernabeu which resides at the heart of the capital.
“Spain at the Camp Nou? We have to be smart, this will be decided by the president of the Spanish Football Federation. And he is smart, he would not be the most suitable for the team. It is not the best time. Creating unnecessary controversy is absurd. “
Barcelona have been linked with Mateu Alemany – one of the most famous general directors in Spanish football. The Spaniard has been without a job for more than a year, but it looks like he is coming back soon.
“Mateu Alemany is one of the most valid, efficient and knowledgeable executives in the world of Spanish football. I have a fluid conversation with him, I have no commitment, but yes, there is a possibility that he is linked to my project.”
Laporta was also asked about his thoughts on returning to Barcelona for a second tenure, and if he felt the pressure to replicate his own success from the past. He seemed very eager answering this, with the excitement reflecting in his voice.
“Some sequels are very good. Of course, mine will be following a very successful stage, but I want to return the joy to Barcelona. I didn’t like what has happened in recent years. I feel challenged in the most difficult moments.”
“I was the first to put a General Manager at Barça and I incorporated women’s football. Now there is only one woman in what will be the management team, but it is due to circumstances. I want women in my candidacy, and in the campaign team there are many “.
On Xavi and Guardiola
While Laporta has not revealed specifics about his project, Font has publicly confirmed who he will appoint as Barcelona manager when and if he is elected – Xavi. It was speculated that Laporta will try to bring Pep Guardiola back to the club but that seems to have become a far-fetched dream, especially after Guardiola signed a two year extension with Manchester City.
“Guardiola? I’m an enthusiast of his. I congratulated him when he renewed. I’m glad for him and I respect him. Come back? Ask him. He knows that Barça’s doors are always open.”
He was asked if he intends to bring Xavi as manager as it seems inevitable in the Barcelona book, even though Font seems to be closer to the legendary Barcelona midfielder.
“Víctor Font has deactivated the Xavi card, which surprises me because I thought he was the cornerstone of his project. He, and he explained it very well, is an asset of Barça, he lives for football. It is normal to wait for see what happens “.
“Players like Xavi, Guardiola or Iniesta are ready and, apart from learning, they need a period of maximum confidence. If he says he is ready, he is. He must find the time to take the step to become a first-team coach “.
On Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is the big talk of the town in the Catalan capital right now. Making him stay seems to the top priority of everyone at Barcelona, including multiple Presidential candidates. Laporta, too, was asked about this – yet again, and his answer did not seem to change.
“I haven’t talked to Messi about the issue. I have an advantage over others, he knows I’ve always fulfilled what I said. We have a good relationship, we appreciate each other and we respect each other. If I’m the president, I think that there are options to follow “.
Neymar is one of the names Barcelona have been constantly linked to since his departure to Paris-Saint Germain. It also seems an effective way to make Messi stay at the club given his close connection to the Brazilian ace. Laporta commented on the same.
“Neymar? I won’t talk about players during the campaign because it can destabilize the team. They are attentive to any history in the environment. I don’t want anyone inside to tell me that I’m a destabilizer.”
On Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu
In a rather controversial turn of events, Laporta spoke about one of the most controversial figures in the history of Barcelona – Sandro Rosell. Once president, Rosell resigned in 2014, leaving the reigns in the hands of Josep Bartomeu, who was permanently elected following a treble. Rosell rose to prominence while working for Laporta, but was fired during that time. All said, it seems like the two have set their personal differences aside.
“Sandro Rosell asked me if I was clear about the current situation of the club. He came up with an idea and left with another. If I win, there will be a reunion with Rosell. There will be will from everyone to to seek the unity of Barcelona “
He was also asked about holding the previous board responsible, through ‘action of responsibility’, which would mean that Bartomeu and his board of directors would have to pay for the losses through their pockets.
“Social responsibility action? My intention is not to have to do it, I don’t plan to go with the rearview mirror on so as not to spend unnecessary energy. But this is not incompatible with transparency. If there are losses, you will have to assume who generated them “
On Ronald Koeman
Barcelona are enjoying one of the worst seasons in their history, and easily the worst one in the recent past. A lot of it boils down to the financial situation at the club, and that the club cannot make signings, but it also stems from Ronald Koeman, who looks far from competent right now. Laporta, however, seemed to be optimistic about this situation:
“Koeman’s Barça is work in process, they haven’t reached their (best) point yet. They are working and I value positively that he uses the youngsters, that work is done in training…It is about maintaining the players motivated to be able to win. Koeman has some margin.”
The project for a stadium renovation — which has been referred to as the Nou Camp Nou — had been laid a long time back – one that would allow the club to host the Champions League final, but the financial constraints caused this year seems to have halted it. Laporta was asked about his plans to renovate the stadium as part of the final question of this interview.
“New Camp Nou? I am clear that the Goldman Sachs contract must first be studied to find out exactly what it is and how the project can be financed. The agreement with the City Council will also have to be seen.”