Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes Lionel Messi and Barcelona's players support his campaign to return to the Blaugrana hot seat. In a unique claim to the position of power, the 52-year-old suggested he has a telepathic relationship with Messi.
"I have telepathy with Messi, he always knows what I'm thinking," said Laporta, as reported by Moises Llorens of AS. "Leo knew I would stand, maybe even before I did, because he's a genius. I feel I have the backing of the dressing room."
The notion that Messi shares a harmonious relationship with the presidential candidate could improve Laporta's chances of success. Pleasing the club's star player, and in turn supporters, remains a key aspect of helping Barca to silverware.
However, current club President Josep Maria Bartomeu provided a retort to Laporta's comment: "I am not telepathic, but when I talk to him (Messi) I call him," he said, reported by Llorens. "We closed a winning cycle and we opened up another, but in silence."
Laporta revealed a number of ideas which will likely appeal to Barca supporters during the official launch of his campaign. A pro-Catalan stance, in which Barcelona is considered a separate country from Spain, is at the heart of his thinking.
"My project is catalanista and committed to the idea of it being a country in every sense," said Laporta, per Llorens. "If Catalunya becomes independent Barca won't be lost in the world. We’re committed to the process of Catalunya becoming independent."
A unique feature of Laporta's bid also stems from his desire to return UNICEF's badge to the front of Barca's shirts. Former president Sandro Rosell—who resigned amid claims he withheld the actual price of Neymar's transfer—added the sponsorship of Qatar Airways to the side's kit in 2010. This brought an end to the club's 111-year tradition of not displaying a corporate logo on their shirts.
"Principles come before money," said Laporta, as reported by Reuters (h/t the Guardian). Qatar Airways' investment currently provides Barca with €30 million (approx £22 million) each year, so Laporta may need to make up the cash elsewhere.
"Bartomeu and Rosell are Qatar, we are UNICEF. It's not good to link Barca to a country with which we don't share a way of thinking," said Laporta, as reported by Llorens.
Laporta also unveiled plans to install former Barca left-back Eric Abidal as technical secretary, as reported by the Guardian. Abidal had a liver transplant after being diagnosed with cancer at the club. He represented Barca between 2007-13, before moving to Monaco and retiring after a brief stint with Greek side Olympiacos.
"Barca is more than a club and I wanted to carry on working and maintain a link to that," said Abidal, reported by the Guardian.
Laporta also promised to ensure La Masia academy is the "bedrock of our future," per Llorens. Without it, supporters wouldn't have seen Messi, Xavi Hernandez and many others develop into the stars they are today.
As such, Laporta's campaign is based around the principals of Barcelona as a football club. The Catalan stance, relationship with UNICEF, welcoming of a former star and development of youth are all traits of a side who strive on independence, giving and the idea of a footballing family.
He knows what it takes to run the club, how to land huge stars and honour those from the past and present, as noted by Spanish writer Sergio Dominguez:
Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi
Laporta also said that if he's reelected, Cruijff and Messi will have statues outside Camp Nou like Kubala.2015-6-22 22:48:14
Barcelona's squad is in an excellent place right now, having won the treble during the first season under Luis Enrique's tutelage. With the club's transfer ban lifting in January 2016, the next president has an opportunity to establish another era of success.
Laporta's campaign suggests that restoring Barca's principals is just as important as winning trophies. This commitment to preserving the essence of the club is likely to be welcomed by many, especially if Messi shares Laporta's way of thinking.