Laporta turns on the charm towards Messi during inauguration ceremony

‘I love you… and Barcelona loves you!’ Joan Laporta turns on the charm towards Lionel Messi during his inauguration ceremony at the Nou Camp – and new president insists the Argentine ‘wouldn’t want to leave if this stadium was full’

  • Joan Laporta told Lionel Messi he loved him during his inauguration ceremony
  • Laporta was elected Barcelona’s new president for a second spell last week
  • Messi and team-mate Gerard Pique were among the guests at the Nou Camp
  • Laporta also threw his support behind manager Ronald Koeman in his speech  

Barcelona’s new president Joan Laporta said he will try and persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club this summer in his inauguration ceremony at the Nou Camp.

Laporta, 58, elected as Barca’s new president for a second spell last week, told Messi that he loved him and would do his best to convince the Argentinian that his future lay with the Catalan giants.

‘We will, for example, try to convince Leo to stay at the club,’ Laporta said during his speech, which was attended by Messi and his team-mates.

New Barcelona president Joan Laporta (L) insists he will try and persuade Lionel Messi to stay 

The pair crossed paths at Laporta’s inauguration at the Nou Camp, which Messi attended 

‘Sorry Leo… I will do my best and he knows it! We’re going to try, of course, to convince him to stay here because he’s the best player in history.

‘Sorry, but I love you and Barcelona also loves you. If this stadium were full, you wouldn’t want to go.’

Messi’s contract expires at the end of the season and the 33-year-old club legend is yet to decide where his future lies.  

Lawyer Laporta, 58, who spent seven years in the role until 2010, said addressing the club’s financial situation was also a priority and that he had faith in head coach Ronald Koeman.

‘Now we need to do things well. We’ll do what we can so you can be proud of Barcelona again,’ he said. ‘The economic situation is a priority for us. 

The ceremony took place with a handful of guests inside an empty Nou Camp stadium 

Centre back Gerard Pique was also among the guests at Laporta’s inauguration on Wednesday 

‘We need to make the club sustainable. We have a plan for this. We will take decisions in Barcelona’s best interests. Stability is key and we can improve all the sections to make them more competitive. But, we must maintain stability.’ 

During Laporta’s first seven-year tenure, Barca won four Spanish LaLiga titles, two UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.

On Koeman, he added: ‘Ronald, you have our confidence. We want to get back to making history in the Champions League, but this year we need to go out and try to win the league title and the Copa del Rey.’

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