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Barcelona transfer news: Joan Laporta says Lionel Messi will leave if he does not become president

Lionel Messi
(Image credit: PA)

Joan Laporta says Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will leave the club this summer unless he wins the upcoming presidential election.

Barcelona members will elect a permanent successor to Josep Maria Bartomeu on Sunday.

Laporta is the favourite to be voted into a position he previously occupied between 2003 and 2010.

Barcelona won four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues during his time at the helm.

Laporta was also influential in the appointment of Pep Guardiola as the club’s new manager in 2008, while Messi made his first-team debut on his watch.

The Argentina international is now Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer and widely regarded as their greatest ever player.

Messi pushed to leave the Camp Nou last summer, though, and he could walk away on a free transfer when his contract expires in June.

Manchester City and PSG are among the clubs who have been linked with a move for the 33-year-old.

Laporta believes Messi could yet stay put, although he believes the Argentine will base his decision on the outcome of Sunday’s vote.

"I have a great relationship with Leo and he will consider whatever proposal I make," he said.

"If I don't win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona. Messi will weigh up the offer we make him. 

“I'm convinced that if the other candidates win, Messi will not remain at Barcelona.

"He wasn't happy during [rival candidate, Toni] Freixa's time on the board.

“He's [Messi] not guided just by money. He wants a competitive team to win. 'm sure he'll listen to my offer, just as I am [sure] that if someone else wins he will leave."

Former president Bartomeu was among four officials arrested in a search and seize operation at the Camp Nou on Monday.

His detention relates to the ‘Barcagate’ scandal, which saw club officials accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players.

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