BARCELONA, Spain, Dec 15 – Barcelona presidential candidate Jordi Farre told AFP on Tuesday he would work to make sure Lionel Messi stays at the Catalan giants should be elected next month, and hinted at a improbable bid for Neymar by the cash-strapped club.
Farre was promoter of the motion that led to previous club chief Josep Maria Bartomeu’s resignation and with elections set for January 24 has been trying to attract support for his candidacy by offering free tattoos and pizzas with the Barca crest to fans who supported his bid for the top job.
The 45-year-old businessman and engineer said his priority is convincing Messi to stay despite the disillusioned Argentina forward’s bid to leave in the close season and the fact he can begin negotiating a departure next summer in the new year.
“Keeping hold of Messi is crucial… I hope that on January 25, after winning the election, the first thing I will do is sign his new contract,” he told AFP.
“I will not reveal any private conversations but we’re working on it. All Leo wants in the end is to stay at Barca, and I’m sure there will be no problem.
“I do not believe that we will have to part with our best players. Barca needs its best players. If we have the best players, we win titles and we bring in more revenue.”
Barca have been rocked by boardroom strife, precarious finances and Messi’s attempt to leave in 2020, and they sit nine points behind current La Liga leaders Real Sociedad, who they welcome to the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Despite admitting Barca’s financial situation was “bad”, he was optimistic the club’s difficult situation could be better managed and even suggested signing Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar would be “the world’s best investment”.
Brazil’s Neymar, who won the 2015 Champions League with Barca alongside Messi and Luis Suarez, recently said he would like to play again with Messi.
“I would be delighted to have him here. He’s the second-best footballer in the world, a spectacular player,” said Farre.
“This institution needs some joy, and Neymar has a smile on his face. He would cost Barca very little, because he helps sell rights, replica shirts, advertising and sponsorships.”
The list of candidates will be made official on December 23, and among those also contesting the election is former president Joan Laporta, who made his candidacy official two weeks ago.
Laporta was at the helm from 2003-2010, a period which included four La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs.
An election campaign will be fought over January 15-23 before the club’s stake-holding members vote either at their Camp Nou stadium or in regional offices across the country.