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Joan Laporta Wins Barcelona Presidency for 2nd Time After Election

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2021

Joan Laporta, former president and pre candidate to presidency of FC Barcelona, speaks during an interview for The Associated Press in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.  Laporta is one of a handful of candidates who hope to become Barcelona’s next president in an election called for Jan. 24, and he believes he is the best man to convince Lionel Messi to stay put at Camp Nou.  (AP Photo/Hernan Muñoz)
Hernan Muñoz/Associated Press

Joan Laporta has become the president of Barcelona for the second time, the club announced after Sunday's elections.

FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona

🗳 2021 ELECTION 🗳 Joan Laporta, new president of FC Barcelona https://t.co/W0Klb7d1Je

Prior to the announcement, ESPN's Sam Marsden noted Laporta held a sizable lead with 75 percent of the votes collected. His 19,293 votes were nearly double that of Victor Font (10,404), the next closest candidate.

"That tally leaves no way back for Laporta's two competitors," Marsden wrote at the time.

Laporta's previous spell ran from 2003-10. At the beginning of his presidency, Barcelona had gone four seasons without a league title, falling behind rivals Real Madrid during the peak of their Galacticos era.

By the time Laporta left, Barca were in the process of revolutionizing the sport and dominating not just La Liga but European football as well.

His prior experience could prove vital given the precarious position in which the club now finds itself.

Lionel Messi's contract is set to expire in the summer, and one could argue bringing him back simply isn't feasible when Barcelona's finances are a total mess. ESPN's Sid Lowe wrote in January their debt approached €1.2 billion, a figure that's down to the COVID-19 pandemic and a wage bill that grew out of control.

"We'll make him an offer based on the club's situation," Laporta said regarding Messi, per Marsden and Moises Llorens. "Maybe we can't compete financially, but Messi is not ruled by money. He wants to end his career at the highest level possible."

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The other question is whether Messi actually wants to stay at Barcelona when their on-field results have been so underwhelming the last few years.

Barca are second in La Liga, three points behind Atletico Madrid. But they're facing a difficult challenge in the Champions League, where they trail Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie. Last season's 8-2 quarterfinals defeat to Bayern Munich seemed to underline how badly a total rebuild is necessary.

And executing that rebuild is easier said than done with ballooning debts and aging players whose salaries are so high as to make them almost impossible to offload.

For Laporta, winning the presidential election was straightforward. Now comes the hard part.

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