Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font believes he can convince disgruntled superstar Lionel Messi to remain at Camp Nou beyond this season.
Messi’s future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.
Font, who is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on January 24 following Josep Maria Bartomeu’s resignation in October, talked up the importance of re-signing Messi.
“I’m convinced that with a competitive, exciting and, especially in Messi’s case, long-term project – one that could even go beyond the day that Messi retires – we will convince him to stay,” Font told ESPN.
“Messi is the best player in the history of the number one sport in the world. Imagine what that means.
“For that reason, the Messi-Barca association is a strategic one and we must do everything possible to guarantee the association lives on.
“Keeping in mind he can speak with other clubs in January, phoning Messi [if I win the election] must be one of the priorities.”
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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Barca hard financially, Font added: “Messi, above all else, is a person that loves Barca and what he wants is to win.
“Of course, the best player in the world and the best of all time has to be compensated competitively. But I think his priorities are competing and winning.
“[His salary] is one of the realities that has to be adjusted. The level of revenue in the short-term and for next season is up in the air. It depends on what happens with fans coming back to the stadium.
“Based on that, we will have to structure the wage bill appropriately. Once we are clear on that situation; we will know what the club can afford.
“Messi is a Barca fan and he loves Barca as we all do. He’s been here for a lot of years, since he was 13, and I am sure that regardless of what he wants to do [with his career] to keep winning, his passion and love for the club is more than anything else.”
Messi has scored four LaLiga goals in 10 appearances this term, while the 33-year-old has managed seven across all competitions.
Barca have endured a forgettable start to the season under new head coach Ronald Koeman, who has overseen back-to-back defeats.
Messi’s Barca are ninth in LaLiga and 12 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Sunday’s clash with Levante – the Catalan giants have lost four of their 10 opening league games, their worst return at this stage of a season since 2000-01.
Barca’s all-time leading scorer Messi has been involved in at least one goal in each of his past nine LaLiga games against Levante (12 goals and 10 assists).
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