Lionel MessiGetty

Messi will leave Barcelona if I don't win presidential election - Laporta

Joan Laporta has expressed his belief that Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona if he doesn't win the club's presidential election later this month.

Speculation over Messi's future is raging as he approaches the final months of his current contract, wit it suggested that the Argentine will call time on his illustrious 16-year career at Camp Nou at the end of the season.

Laporta still believes that Messi can be convinced to extend his stay in Catalunya, but only if he beats Victor Font and Toni Freixa to become Barca president for the second time on March 8.

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What's been said?

"I am sure that if someone else wins the election [other than me], Messi won't stay at the club," Laporta said in a debate between the three candidates.

"I have a good relationship with him, there's a lot of respect. We'll make him an offer based on the club's situation.

"Maybe we can't compete financially, but Messi is not ruled by money.

"He wants to end his career at the highest level possible."

Messi's stance on his future

Messi tried and failed to manufacture a way out of Camp Nou at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, having grown frustrated over the way the club was being run at boardroom level.

The 33-year-old pledged to stay put for another year in order to avoid a drawn-out legal dispute, with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu subsequently stepping down amid intense pressure from supporters and influential figures at the club.

Messi has continued to lead by example during a transitional period on the pitch under Ronald Koeman this season, but left the door open to a transfer when addressing his situation in December .

"I don't know if I'm going to leave or not and, if I leave, I would like to leave in the best way," he said. "Barcelona is much bigger than any player, even me obviously, and I hope that the president who comes in will do things well to help us lift important titles again." 

Who has Messi been linked with?

Unsurprisingly, Messi has been attracting attention from a number of Europe's top clubs since handing in a formal transfer request at Barca back in August.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have all been tipped to make a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner later in the year, while he has also admitted that a potential switch to MLS holds great appeal to him amid reported interest from Inter Miami.

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