BARCELONA – Joan Laporta “he sleeps very little, four or five hours, rarely reaches six, and has an overflowing vitality”, revealed to ESPN Digital a source very close to the new president of Barcelona who explained in this way his ability to cope with situations unexpected events such as the one that caused the untimely departure of Jaume Giró from his management team without this causing him to lose perspective on other issues that he understood to be fundamental at the beginning of his mandate.
And in parallel to solving that economic crisis that is weighing on the club, Laporta, a passionate soccer fan like few others, considers it essential to prop up a sports project that motivates Barça fans. How? With the biggest assets you have in the locker room. If studying that chimerical signing of Erling Haaland will have to wait a few weeks, the opposite happens with those on the payroll, and there are two names that stand out above the rest: Lionel Messi and Ronald Koeman. Both have the undisguised affection of the president, both received him publicly in his inauguration speech and everyone already knows to what extent he wants them as the undisputed axes of his project.
“Joan is clear about the concepts and does not speak just to speak … Well, letting go of what she said to Leo before the whole world was a point but she has been thinking about the subject for weeks,” a direct collaborator of her candidacy explained to ESPN Digital. admitting that “broadly” the president has a plan to convince the Argentine star of his continuity.
Giving him the “affection” that fundamental Laporta has already done, alone and in the eyes of the whole world, and from there the moment begins to roll up his sleeves to turn that affection into a concrete proposal that can convince him. “Messi knows the situation of the club and understands the need to lower his salary,” said the same source, without elaborating on details but clarifying that the idea of the president, and by extension of his board, is to offer the captain a linked indefinite contract to a continuity at Barça beyond the end of his career, which is contemplated at least three or four years ahead.
The post-footballer Messi could become the visible face of the club’s Foundation, to which Laporta wants to give a push because he considers that today he does not have the media impact he deserves and through the image of the Argentine, as the greatest exponent in collaboration direct with his own, he would get.
In the short term, the most urgent thing, the task is to convince him through a clear and concise idea on the sporting level. “If Leo feels wrapped up in the field in a team with options to fight for everything, there will already be a lot of won,” said the same source, arguing that from then on the economic aspect of that new contract would not be, it will not be, an aspect insurmountable.
You do not want, at all, to enter into speculation about the salary cut that should be made in that new contract. Whether it is 20, 25 or 30 percent, since the new directive it is considered feasible to start that agreement. Even more so when there is the conviction that Messi, who came to vote in the elections in a clear demonstration of his identification with the club, welcomed Laporta’s victory at the polls with evident satisfaction.
If solving the continuity of Messi is known to be essential, maintaining that of Koeman “is indisputable” according to another person from the management team. “Ronald, you know that you have the confidence of this board of directors,” Laporta transferred to the Dutch coach during the inauguration, reinforced in an absolute way in the eyes of the whole world.
Koeman warned in previous weeks that considering it “very important” for the club to have a president, he also wanted to have things clear regarding his person from that new leader and Laporta’s message could not be more conclusive.
With one more season on his contract, the Dutchman’s work is highly valued in this troubled present. Not only has he taken the pulse of a wardrobe that respects him for his clear and direct speech, for his predisposition to change schemes or for having reinforced the daily effort, but he has also won over the environment thanks to his undisguised commitment to giving confidence to the youth, which personalized in Pedri, but also in Araújo, Ilaix, Dest, the now injured Ansu Fati or Riqui Puig and waiting for the observed Konrad, Collado and others offer a bright future for the Barça youth squad.
Understood out of context, and unfeasible, a return of Pep Guardiola to the bench (the Catalan coach maintains a very good relationship with Laporta, whom he congratulated on his electoral victory), the name of Xavi Hernández clearly emerges … Who is seen in key more of the future than the present.
Today, and tomorrow, the coach of Barça is Ronald Koeman without discussion and as much as the new president and his management team understand that they must be aware of any incident, there is confidence that the Dutchman could be a medium / long journey at the Camp Nou, in the image and likeness of what Frank Rijkaard starred in in his previous stage.
The way to strengthen the team is a puzzle with a difficult solution in the short term. In the summer of 2003 Laporta completely revolutionized the squad, releasing up to eight players with a contract (Riquelme, Rochemback, Frank de Boer, Giovanni, Dani, Bonano, Enke and Christanval) and not exercising the purchase option for Mendieta and Sorín … But imagining a similar scenario in 2021 is very complicated.
If then there were assignments, now a similar solution could be sought because offering low, taking into account salaries, may have more difficulty. Only from the exits that could be achieved (Neto, Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho and Junior Firpo are the first names but not the only ones who come to the plane) will it be possible to start thinking about how and with whom to reinforce the squad.
Koeman maintains his desire to incorporate Memphis Depay, which could be a concession from Laporta if that does not prevent more significant signings. If the name of Georginio Wijnaldum loses weight and the name of David Alaba is little to no suspicion, Sergio Agüero does not have the necessary quorum either, quite the opposite of Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian is seen as “the Ronaldinho of 2003, the name”, is recognized in the new management team, but the reality of the club is more complicated than 18 years ago and negotiating his signing is a challenge between huge and utopian when it is referred to. to an operation with figures that exceed 100 million euros.
Impossible? “Nothing is impossible. We are Barça and with Joan there is no such consideration,” warned another person who was most trusted by the new president. We will have to see him …