Football

Messi ‘not a problem’ for Barcelona says Laporta – but he admits club must win trophies to convince Argentine to stay

The forward has found his hopes of silverware narrowed again in yesterday’s rout by PSG, a result that will only further speculation about his future

Lionel Messi is “not a problem” for Barcelona says Joan Laporta, however the club presidential hopeful admitted that they face a fight to keep him if they fail to win trophies in the wake of Tuesday’s Champions League hammering by Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentine superstar revealed last year that he wanted to leave the European giants, having spent his whole senior career in La Liga with Ronald Koeman’s side, triggering a nasty public fallout.

The subsequent resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu appears to have helped relationships somewhat, but the club’s title troubles – compounded by PSG’s emphatic 4-1 victory at Camp Nou this week – has further highlighted the fight they face to convince Messi to stay.

What has Laporta said?

“Messi wants to win with Barcelona,” Laporta told Sky Sports Italia. “I’ll do my best to keep him, there are some clubs really interested in signing him.”

Laporta further stated that financials are not the be-all-and-end-all for the player too, and stressed that the player himself is not an issue for the Blaugrana.

“Leo wants to win titles, not just to earn money,” he added. “He’s not a ‘problem’ for Barca, Messi is 30 per cent of the club’s profit.”

The bigger picture

Few topics have dominated the football discourse more than the Argentine’s future since he sat down to discuss it with Goal last year.

As new manager Koeman has attempted to revive flagging fortunes at Camp Nou and Laporta has poisitioned himself as a frontrunner to return to the presidency, Messi has mostly let his performances on the pitch do the talking, shunning any futher speculation.

Yesterday’s rout has further underlined that there are no quick, easy fixes at Barca and could drive the veteran forward towards the exit – with PSG feasibly only one of two destinations that could meet his demands.

Manchester City, coached by former mentor Pep Guardiola, remain the other, with the two European heavyweights widely expected to battle it out for Messi should he close the door on his time in the Catalan region.

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