The previous week proved to be a treasure trove for all Blaugrana fans. A remontada against Sevilla to propel them towards the final. Both clubs of Madrid dropping points in the Madrid derby. But the most promising news that everyone received was that Joan Laporta is finally back at the helm of FC Barcelona. He will look to drive the club to another golden era.
Elections, Laporta, and the sporting project
It was a rough time for Barcelona after the 8-2 defeat against Bayern. It exposed the widespread cracks in Barcelona's system. Their management had become questionable after repeatedly getting into bad deals and enormous debts. Ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned a couple of months after that defeat and it was only inevitable. After Messi's heart-breaking interview with Goal, Barcelona's deep-lying problems came to the surface. The management was failing. With Bartomeu resigning, the candidates started their campaign for the next presidential election.
Freixa's campaign was based on getting enough revenues to deal with Barcelona's debt. His slogan "Loyal to Barca" is more of a statement as he clearly shows his willingness to support Ronald Koeman to stay as head coach in the next season. He vowed to bring a Silicon Valley company to invest in the club and derive a profit of approximately 60 million euros. Font, on the other hand, was not a fan of Koeman initially. His project revolves around getting Xavi Hernandez to be the coach of Barcelona next season. He believes Xavi can convince Messi to stay as well as take up the reins of the first team.
Laporta's campaign mainly depended on his experience. He had a slogan saying "We love Barca" and used it to propel his chances to win. He decided to increase the capacity of Camp Nou to 1,05,000 within four years. Laporta believes he can persuade Messi to stay in Barcelona. He had the most influential campaign. Rightfully so. On Sunday, after the election results were declared, Laporta became the President of FC Barcelona with 30,184 votes (almost 54% of all votes).
2003 - 2010: The golden era
Laporta's first presidency reigned from 2003 to 2010, a time when Barcelona was enjoying its most successful run in terms of trophies and style of play. They won a total of 12 years within that period, six of them coming from the remarkable sextuple in 2009 led by Pep Guardiola. Laporta has a keen eye for talent as he continuously signed brilliant players. Ronaldinho, Eto, Henry, and Villa all played for the club during his time. In addition to that, La Masia was flourishing with immensely talented players some of whom have now established their status as "one of the best players in the world".
The credit does not go completely to Laporta, of course, for the success. However, his stay at the top filled the club with motivation and positivity, something which has been missing for the past years. After such a successful run, the fans expect another remarkable run from the 58-year-old.
Can Laporta convince Messi to stay?
One of the biggest questions right now in modern football is whether Messi will continue his career at Barcelona or will he move to a different club? The lack of clubs or money for that matter wouldn't be a problem. Who wouldn't want the best player of all time to play for their team? Time and again, Messi has proved that he is worth every penny that he earns and likely more. What matters is the path the Argentine wants to take. Last year he clearly stated his intentions to leave the club because of poor management and his inability to carry the team anymore.
After Laporta's win and Barcelona's current form under Koeman, Messi might just change his mind. It is, after all, his childhood club. During the golden era, Messi was indeed close to Laporta as he was the president then. Laporta has claimed that he would talk to Messi and "do everything" to make him stay.
In addition to it, Messi did go to vote on Sunday. Does this mean that Messi believes in Laporta's sporting project? We will know when the season ends. If Messi does indeed swap Camp Nou for any other destination, it will be strange. The visual of Messi wearing something other than the Blaugrana jersey is still difficult to fathom.
Transfers and departures
Except trying to make Messi stay, Laporta has also been involved to make a few important transfers this season to help the squad. Barcelona has recovered gradually after the horrendous season earlier. They, however, need a striker and a good defensive line to improve their gameplay.
It is rumored that Erling Haaland is on the list of Laporta. The chances are low given Barcelona's drastic drop in revenues and rising debt. Other viable options that Laporta is considering include Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero. Both are extremely prolific strikers and can help the club capitalize on goal-scoring chances which they are failing to do now.
As for the defense, Laporta is in close contact with David Alaba's agent to try and get him to join the squad. According to rumors, Eric Garcia will join for free from Manchester City this summer. Although these are not big names, this is perhaps exactly what Barcelona need right now.
They have enough firepower in midfield right now with the likes of Pedri, De Jong, Ilaix, and Puig. The youngsters are really promising and clearly have adapted to Koeman's style. The frontline is extremely talented with the likes of Griezmann, Dembele, and Messi up top. However, with the departure of Luis Suarez and the injury of Ansu Fati, no goal-scoring forward remained. The defense is shaky as well with the likes of Pique showing signs of age. Araujo is a brilliant young defender, but he needs someone to support him. Garcia or Alaba would be beneficial to lead the line.
Beginning of an era
Laporta comes after a bitter week where Barcelona got thrashed by PSG 4 to 1 at Camp Nou and Bartomeu was arrested for the "Barcagate" scandal that took place earlier. However, Laporta seems to have come with a plan and that will please the Blaugrana. His experience at the top is makes fans hopeful of a future in line with the history, culture and legacy of FC Barcelona. The era of Laporta begins now!