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"The new contract with Messi is going well, but it's not done." Those are the words that president Joan Laporta used to describe the current state of affairs with the Argentine star. "We have to keep working on it but the relationship is a really good one and Messi loves Barça. We get the impression, all of us, that we are getting everything we need to ready so that Messi stays at Barça."
Following up, Laporta added: "We have made an offer within Barça's capabilities. It's clear Leo deserves more and he could get more but I think he want to keep improving with Barça and he is excited about staying and the project."
"I have always said that with Messi is not about money but that he sees a team that has the chance to win trophies. If you ask for my feeling, I would say I am moderately optimistic. He knows the important effort we are making."
I would say I am moderately optimistic. He knows the important effort we are making“ Joan Laporta
Laporta belives that chances of Messi staying have risen the last few months thanks to his election as FC Barcelona president. "Before there was a president with whom he was disappointed but now I am here and I think he likes that."
About the project itself, Laporta announced that there would be signings next week and the first new faces ahead of the 2021/22 season. "Next week we will announce new incorporations into the first team squad and you will see the results of the work we have been doing," he explained.
Ronald Koeman's future
Asked about the situation regarding the coaching position, Joan Laporta said that “we said that we’d assess the season when it finishes and then make whatever decisions need to be made. We met Ronald Koeman and we have put off any decisions until next week, always acting with the utmost respect and admiration towards a person like him, one of the European champions at Wembley.”
“Koeman is not a coach that we appointed and we need to have these conversations with him to share ideas about the new-look Barça. We want everyone to understand and accept what we want the team to be like. I can tell him everything that I think and he can speak openly to me too. We have a very direct, clear relationship.”
“The first person to learn of the decision will be Koeman, but for the time being our ways of thinking have come very close together.”
“Barça is not a club that has transition seasons. The idea is always to aim to win everything. Our methods were inspired by Johan Cruyff in every way. We want to win and to do so by playing well.”
Antonio Carlos Ortega, new handball manager
Laporta also spoke about plans for the other sports sections. Regarding handball, he explained why Xavi Pascual and David Barrufet are departing: “I admire both gentlemen. I appointed Pascual as coach and Barrufet was a player under me and I was the one who reappointed him.”
“We have technical and sporting reasons to believe that we needed to change the coach. I think the project should have our seal. We think we needed some new impulse. These are times of change and I demand respect for our sporting decision, always out of respect and gratitude to Xavi Pascual. He will be replaced by Antonio Carlos Ortega.”
Ortega was part of the Dream Team that was champion of Europe uninterruptedly from 1996 to 2000. He first coached at Antequera, then at Veszprém in Hungary from 2012 to 2015, and since 2017 he’s been at Hannover-Burgdorf in the German Bundesliga.
We have technical and sporting reasons to believe that it was necessary to change the handball coach. We want to give it a new push“ Joan Laporta
‘Impulse’ was the key word in Laporta’s speech, which he also used to describe the change of futsal coach. “Andreu Plaza has done a great job but we feel the section needs new impulse” he said. “We are grateful to him and wish him all the best in the future.”
There are fewer changes in store for the basketball team, which is playing in the EuroLeague Final Four this weekend. “I have full faith in Saras Jasikevicius, who knows the club and its youth system” he said. “And someone like Juan Carlos Navarro is also a major impulse for the section.”
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