Lionel Messi wants more than money at Barcelona, with presidential candidate Joan Laporta insisting the disgruntled superstar craves a competitive team for success.
Messi’s future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.
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.
Barca’s interim president Carlos Tusquets said the club should have sold Messi in the last transfer window due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Laporta, 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 Messi.
“Leo wants Barcelona,” former president Laporta – at the helm of Barca from 2003 to 2010 as Messi’s career took off – told Radio Marca and COPE.
“What I want is to give him back his happiness. It’s not just a question of money, you have to create a competitive team.
“Leo has been cheated and that is a big loss. He’s a winner and can’t stand to see other teams lift the Champions League.
“The last time I spoke to him was in October. I am very grateful to him for all he has done for Barcelona. I have known him since he was 16 years old and he is an extraordinary person.
“There is mutual appreciation and respect. We must be inside [the club] to make an imaginative and credible proposal to him.”
Messi has scored four goals in nine LaLiga appearances this season, while he has netted seven across all competitions.
“Leo wants to have a squad that brings back the joy,” Laporte added.
“A team like Barcelona needs team spirit in a dressing room. I’ve been president of Barcelona and I don’t want to destabilise a team in a delicate situation.”
After being dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid last season and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, Ronald Koeman’s Barca are seventh in LaLiga and 10 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.