'The first thing I'd do as Barca president is call Monchi' - Benedito lays out plans for struggling Catalans

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Agustí Benedito
The candidate sees Sevilla's director of football as a key part of the club's future, while expressing doubt over Lionel Messi staying at Camp Nou

Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito claims that he will bring in Monchi to shake up the club's much-derided transfer policy, while admitting that Lionel Messi's continued reluctance to commit his future at Camp Nou troubles him.

A former ally of Joan Laporta prior to his election win in 2003, Benedito has twice run unsuccessfully for the club's presidency. 

Third time's a charm, though, as they say, and the 56-year-old is confident of his chances at taking the top job from June 25 onwards. 

Should he triumph, renowned Sevilla sporting director Monchi will be given the opportunity to revolutionise a Barca side that has endured a torrid 2020 on the field. 

"We met in 2015 several times with Koeman and he had strong ideas. I think he will open a spell that lasts several years at the helm," Benedito explained to Goal

"In terms of sporting direction, back then we bet on Monchi and we spoke to him, too. I still think he is in the top three in the world and would be a brilliant addition.

"Back then it seemed he would never leave Sevilla and then he went to Italy and came back. The first thing I will do if I am president will be to call Monchi and try to convince him.

"Neymar? Let's see how he gets on with Covid-19! But I'm not sure he'd agree either in 2021 nor 2022. I don't think this is the time to be signing that kind of player and I don't think Qatar will let him go either. 

"They are organising the World Cup finals, the investment is huge, they have a top club in world football like PSG and I think that not only will they try to keep those kind of players but that they will also go out looking for new signings. 

"I think this summer we will be more focused on convincing Messi to stay than on Neymar's return." 

Lionel Messi Barcelona

The issue of the club captain, who made public his desire to leave over the summer, has dominated the election agenda ever since. 

The Argentine voiced more criticisms of Barcelona and then-president Josep Bartomeu this week to La Sexta, and Benedito admits that he was disheartened by what he heard. 

"In the summer he made some huge declarations where he said clearly that he wanted to go and asked the president to let him go and now we need him to change his mind," he explained. 

"That interview was a unique opportunity to say that he was excited to continue and we didn't hear that. I wasn't able to hear a hopeful message and I'm worried, frankly. 

"Unlike what he told you in Goal, this time he didn't say he wanted to go but neither did he say that he wanted to stay."

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Benedito added: "What us Cules are worried about is if he will stay on next season, that has nothing to do with what happens further down the road. We are hanging on his decision and after the interview I am still unsure whether he is interested in staying at the club because he didn't say so. 

"We have the best player in the world, who in August said he wanted to leave after 20 years at the club and who still hasn't said if he wants to stay. My concern is that the most likely scenario sees him leaving us in the summer. Who wouldn't be worried about losing the best player ever?

"Everything has its beginning and end but it would be a shame for Messi's time at Barca to be cut short. Bartomeu, the man responsible for having lied to him, was the worst president in club history."