Laporta: "Now I am here. And Messi likes that"
The Barça president is "moderately optimistic" about the Argentinian's renewal and "does not rule out" that Koeman will continue next season
BarcelonaAlmost three months after winning the elections, Joan Laporta held his first press conference to talk about Barça's current affairs. The president did not make any big headlines, excusing himself on the fact that most of the issues on the table were not yet closed. For example, Messi's renewal, about which he was "moderately optimistic". Or the future of Koeman, who "cannot be ruled out" for next season. As for the renewal of the squad, no names have been mentioned, and he has only promised that "next week" the next signings will be announced. As for the financial situation, and while waiting for the internal audit to be completed, he does not rule out "holding Josep Maria Bartomeu's previous board accountable".
Laporta, who has wanted to send a message of "patience, optimism and conviction that the next season will be very successful", has clarified that he did the press conference to "calm the impatience of those around us". "We have a different rhythm. On the one hand, liquidating a project that has not worked out, and, on the other, building another project that will be very succesful", added the president, who has asked for more time to implement the Barça he wants.
The future of Messi
"Messi wants Barça to think big. When we speak of a competitive team, it is not a cliché", Laporta has said, who already has presented a renewal proposal to the Argentinean. "The new contract is going well, but it is not yet done". A year after he sent a burofax to leave, now Messi is very close to staying. "What has changed? Before there was another president, and now I am here. And he likes this. Bartomeu disappointed him and now there is a president who wants him to continue".
The other big issue is the future of Ronald Koeman. "Don't rule him out", said the president, implying that the option of him serving out the second year of his contract is gaining weight. Laporta would neither confirm nor deny that he was looking for a replacement, nor the content of the last meeting he held with the coach. For the president, Koeman "has the profile" he is looking for, but he conditions the final decision to "unify criteria" with the board, referring to the model of play and the list of new arrivals and departures for next season. "He is a coach that we did not choose and, therefore, we need to talk to be sure that he fulfils what we want Barça to be". Next week they will have another meeting in which a final decision could be made.
Nor did he comment on his possible replacement, should he be sacked. He did not want to answer on whether he would like Guardiola to return, nor on the option of Xavi Hernández. Although, from the way he has expressed himself, he has implied that the midfielder from Terrassa is still a bit too young to take over the position.
As for the squad, and beyond Messi, Laporta acknowledged that they were already working on the list of new signings and departures and announced that "next week" the first incorporation for next season would be made official. A squad that will undergo a major renovation. "We are talking to everyone. There are a number of aspects that have been relaxed in recent years because there were not the necessary demands. With us, if you lose, there are consequences", commented the president, who made a final reflection: "It's no good winning the Copa if you then have a disastrous end to the season. This will help us to make decisions".
Laporta has not gone into detail on the economic aspect of Barça, pending the internal audits he has requested to find out the real state of the club in financial terms. But he did warn that he will most probably "purge responsibilities" with Bartomeu's previous board. "We are finding some worrying and surprising things, but the audits have not yet been completed".