Hey Dave: What’s the significance of the Barcelona election?

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On Sunday, March 7, the Catalonian club FC Barcelona held a presidential election to determine who would control the club moving forward. This comes after former president Josep Bartomeu resigned back in October 2020,  feeling a lack of confidence from the club under him. Only three candidates were on the ballot: Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Tony Freixa. As a result, Laporta won over half the votes and is now back in the seat for the next six years. 

I feel that many don’t truly know how big of an impact this election has on the future of the club moving forward. Jokingly (kind of), this is bigger than the United States election, at least for Barcelona fans. With that being said, allow me to explain why Joan Laporta will have a major effect on the club. 

The appointment of Joan Laporta is crucial is because whoever is appointed as president will reflect on whether or not Lionel Messi stays at the Catalonian club. Given that Laporta already has an existing relationship with the Argentine legend, there’s no doubt he will try to convince Messi to stay in hopes that the club will bring not just domestic trophies, but the long desired Champions League trophy. On top of that, there have been reports that Laporta was the only candidate who could persuade Messi to stay. 

Along with convincing Messi to stay, the president also has a say in the financial issue the club currently faces. As of now, their debt is around €1 billion (nearly $1.2 billion). Should Messi stay, Laporta is going to have to negotiate some kind of pay cut for the Argentine. The pay cut will be a step in the right direction, but it won’t solve their financial problems completely. Maybe it would be best to sell some other players to help? Who knows, but Spain’s plan to bring fans back into stadiums in mid-to-late spring will certainly help lower their debt. 

Laporta’s win is huge for Culers simply because of his past. Having first held office from 2003 to 2010, he brought in several players that turned the club’s reputation into a “Golden Era,” including Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and David Villa, to name a few. He also saw Messi make his debut and transform into the player he is today.  

Given his power and his close relationships with people in the club like Messi, I don’t doubt that Laporta will bring in world-class players and start back up another ‘Golden Era’ in the next few years. Players like Erling Haaland will be very difficult for Barcelona to make an offer with as of now, but Laporta does have a strong relationship with the world-renowned agent Mino Raiola; so with some negotiations, I don’t rule out such a transfer in the foreseeable future. 

Because of its financial struggles, it’s also very likely that Barcelona will look to La Masia to bring in generational talent for now, rather than its previous agenda of “buying players for an insanely high price and hoping for the best” for the upcoming transfer window. If you’ve read my past columns about homegrown players, you know I’m very supportive of this stance, especially when it comes to a club who can’t afford to make big signings yet has historically been known to produce amazing talent. 

With the election spewing positive reactions within and around Barcelona and with the club’s second tie against PSG in the Champions League Round of 16 on Wednesday, Laporta’s appointment will give the players a big confidence boost to push for the European trophy. One thing is for certain: life is good in one of Spain’s biggest clubs right now.

Thumbnail image courtesy of @FCBarcelona on Twitter.  

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