Barcelona president Joan Laporta spoke at length to CBS Sports on Friday about the hottest topics around Barçaland, and had some very interesting things to say about the return of Lionel Messi, Frenkie De Jong’s future and his expectations for next season among many other issues.
The full interview can be found here. These are the best bits:
On Lionel Messi’s return
I did what I had to do in order to put the institution above the best player in our history. I have known Messi since he was a kid and I love Leo. I feel in moral debt to Messi. He’s the best player in our history and I will do my best in order to ensure he can have the best ending of his career with a Barça shirt on.
I would like to bring him back. It will not be easy but I think with the correct strategy we could do it. I think Messi has been the most important player in our history. During a long period of success he was the leader. He was the one who excited our supporters. We will do our best to have Messi ending his career at Barcelona and being applauded by everyone.
We have a moral debt to Leo. The end of Leo at Barcelona was not the best. It was a difficult time. We had to take a decision and put the club above the best player in our history. But I think we have to work now to have Messi end his career back wearing the shirt of Barcelona being applauded on every field that he plays. We will do our best to give him the ending he deserves.
This is a wish we have and I hope we can convert it to reality. We have a strategy to get him back to Barcelona. Barça loves Leo, the fans love Leo and I love him, too. I will do my best.
On Frenkie De Jong’s situation
The first thing to say is we want Frenkie to stay at Barcelona. We love the player and him as a human being. I want him to stay at Barcelona. He’s a high-quality player and a good guy. I also know that he wants to stay.
All we are doing with Frenkie is the same as the rest of the squad. The signings coming in have adjusted their salary to the new structure. But Frenkie has a contract and we respect that. We can’t force him to take a pay cut. It’s his decision.
We are trying to manage the football club in a prudent and sustainable way. So we have to have these talks and we do so in a calm and considered way. We have explained the situation and are grateful to any players who can help us. It was the same with Dembele and I am very grateful to him. And after months of talks, he accepted a renegotiation of his salary and he can be proud of his decision.
[If Frenkie doesn’t take a paycut and just stays at Barça] he will continue. Has has a contract. We will respect that decision. For us, he’s a Barcelona player. We count on him.
On expectations for next season
I believe we will compete for LaLiga and the Champions League. We are a stakeholder in these competitions and we will be trying to win both. I hope we have a chance. But we’ll see. But I am sure we will show our genuine style of playing football that fans love. They will be very proud of us this season.