BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Lionel Messi watching closely, newly elected Barcelona president Joan Laporta took office on Wednesday and promised to do his best to convince the star playmaker to stay.
Messi was at Laporta’s inauguration at the Camp Nou Stadium and embraced the new president during the ceremony.
One of Laporta’s biggest tasks will be to try to change Messi’s mind after he pushed to leave the club last season. He had his request denied by former president Josep Bartomeu but can leave for free when his contract expires at the end of this season.
“I’ll do whatever I can to keep Messi from leaving,” Laporta said, adding that he was certain the star player wouldn’t be considering leaving if the stands weren’t empty because of the pandemic.