FC Barcelona is a football club quite unlike any other. It was the birthplace of tiki-taka football and has always been at the forefront of the beautiful game in Europe.
Something else that sets it apart is how the club is still very much in the hands of fans and club members, who are called upon now and again to vote for a new club president. With the club at something of a crossroads, unsure of whether to soldier on with an ageing Messi or to rebuild from scratch, a new president has just been installed.
That man is Joan Laporta, who previously held the position at the head of the club from 2003 till 2010, during which time he helped build one of the most powerful squads any domestic league in Europe has ever seen.
In this article, we take a look at what a second term for Joan Laporta might mean for the Catalan club, as they go in search of a strategy that can get them back to the top of European football so they can rival Pep Guardiola’s Man City as well as his former charges at Bayern Munich.
Barcelona is desperate to get back to their dominant best, but is Joan Laporta the man to get them there?
Will Messi Stay or Go?
There has been a raging debate around the Catalan capital in recent months about whether keeping Messi on the payroll is worth it for everyone involved. His detractors among the outgoing presidential team argued that he cost the club too much and should have been offloaded much in the same way that Ronaldo was at Real Madrid.
CR7 leaving has allowed Zidane to go about trying to rebuild the Madrid giants, whereas Barcelona has been stuck in the mud with wranglings off the pitch often overshadowing results on it.
On this issue Laporta is clear – he wants Messi to stay and play a role in the new team that is about to be built. He is also of the opinion that despite Messi’s huge wage demands, the Argentine striker still brings more money into the club than he takes out.
Whereas Real Madrid offloaded Ronaldo so that he did not become bigger than the club, Barcelona have clung to Messi
Are Summer Signings on the Horizon?
Oddsmakers and tipsters are already frantically hypothesizing about which major stars will be moving where this summer and although the European Championships are sure to disrupt some transfer deals, it is expected that Barcelona will be in the market to provide Messi with an effective foil.
While other presidential candidates such as Toni Freixa promised to sign both Mbappe and Haaland, Laporta has taken a more muted approach, suggesting the team should be built carefully using as much local talent as possible. It is unclear if this will impress the sports pundits and online betting experts enough to have Barcelona installed as favourites for either the La Liga or Champions League titles.
Many will scratch their heads as to why Suarez and Rakitić were allowed to leave in the first place.
Will Huge Debt Tie Laporta’s Purse Strings?
One thing that may force Laporta into trusting youth rather than big-money signings is the huge amount of debt the club has accrued in recent years, with the number reported to be close to the €1 billion marks.
Many will judge his success on him being able to balance the books, but it remains to be seen if that can be done while at the same time nurturing a team with cup-winning potential.
La Masia Back at the Forefront
What this latter point will mean is that more onus will be put on Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy to ramp up the production of some top young talent.
There have been sparks of brilliance from the likes of Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig, but not enough to suggest that they have the talent to spearhead a team the size of Barcelona.
Last but not least there is the matter of who Laporta will entrust the manager’s position too, with Koeman’s future uncertain.
After having had success with a former player like Pep Guardiola, there have been strong rumors circling that either Mikel Arteta or Xavi could be brought in to replace the Dutchman.