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<p>Barcelona club president Joan Laporta (left) with Lionel Messi</p> (Getty Images)

Barcelona club president Joan Laporta (left) with Lionel Messi

(Getty Images)

Joan Laporta has said Lionel Messi “deserves much more” money than Barcelona can offer, but the new club president has insisted that the captain “would like to stay”.

Messi joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has been with the La Liga side ever since, with many fans believing for a long time that the forward would retire at the club.

That perception changed in August, however, when the Argentina international informed Barcelona of his desire to leave amid a turbulent time for the club both on and off the pitch.

Messi ultimately elected to stay, but negotiating a new contract for the 33-year-old was always going to be a priority for whomever replaced Josep Maria Bartomeu, who stepped down as club president in October due to the transfer saga last summer.

Laporta, who was previously Barca president from 2003 until 2010, was elected as Bartomeu’s successor in March, but the 58-year-old has only now given his first press conference since reassuming his old role.

“The new contract talks with Messi are going well, but we have to keep working,” Laporta said on one of the most important topics at Barcelona at the moment.

“We are preparing a proposal that with the [financial] limitations of the club can convince Messi [to stay]. He loves the club and we are all preparing whatever it takes for him to stay at Barca.

“We can make an offer within our [financial] possibilities. Leo deserves much more and could earn more elsewhere, [but] I’m convinced he values the effort we’re making and would like to stay.

“Leo is not about the money, but a team that can win everything. I am moderately optimistic.”

Messi in action for Barca this season (Getty Images)Messi in action for Barca this season (Getty Images)

Messi in action for Barca this season (Getty Images)

Laporta labelled the 2020/21 season a “disaster”, with Barca having won the Copa del Rey but finishing third in La Liga and being eliminated by Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“We have always acted with the utmost respect for [coach] Ronald Koeman,” the Spaniard said. “We already had a meeting and we arranged to meet next week to make decisions.

“Ronald is a coach who we did not appoint, so we need these conversations to be sure we all share the same idea of the new Barca team. His behaviour has been impeccable.”

Laporta hinted at signing new players this summer, despite Barca’s financial difficulties, saying: “Losing will have consequences and the squad will have to be improved. We’ll start announcing new additions next week.”

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has long been linked with a return to Barca, whom he managed from 2008 to 2012 after playing for the Catalan club between 1990 and 2001.

Guardiola is one win away from a first Champions League title since the one he achieved with Barcelona in 2011, as his Man City side take on Chelsea in the final on Saturday.

About a possible return to Barca for Guardiola, Laporta said: “I am not here to talk about dreams, I’m here to talk about realities.

“When we talk about Guardiola, the only thing in my head is that I hope he can win the Champions League this weekend.”

Laporta was also asked about Barcelona’s involvement in the planned European Super League, from which nine of the original 12 participating teams withdrew in April, leaving just Barca, Real Madrid and Juventus.

“Our position is to defend Barca’s interests and help make football sustainable,” Laporta said. “We clubs are suffering and if the big ones suffer, with losses and debt, it will end up affecting all the clubs.

“Our position is to keep dialogue with the federations. I have a good relationship with [Spanish Football Federation president Luis] Rubiales and [La Liga president Javier] Tebes, and I have spoken to [Uefa president Aleksander] Ceferin.”

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