New president Laporta sees 'clear sign' Messi will stay, saying 'the best player in the world loves Barca!'

Joan Laporta will now turn his attention to convincing Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona after winning the club's presidential election on Sunday.

He claimed it was a "very telling" moment to see Messi vote in the election because it confirmed the forward's enduring love for his boyhood side.

Laporta's relationship with Messi dates back decades, as he was previously president from 2003-10. He has used his connection with the Argentine to tout himself as the perfect person for the presidential position at a perilous moment for Barcelona.

What has Laporta said about Messi?

"Seeing Lionel Messi coming to vote today, seeing him taking part, that is very telling," Laporta said in a press conference.

"Twenty years ago [he] made his debut with Barca's youth team. Seeing the best player in the world come out to vote today is a clear sign of what we keep saying. Leo loves Barca.

"The best player in the world loves Barca and I hope that is a sign that he will stay at Barcelona, which is what we all want."

Messi's contract status

His contract is up this summer, leaving little time for Laporta to make the case that the attacker should re-commit to Barcelona.

Messi's expiring deal, signed in 2017, is worth a reported €555 million (£491m/$674m).

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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