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Laporta: “I assure the fans that the next season will be successful”

Barça president Joan Laporta during today’s press conference (Photo by : Andreu Dalmau / EFE)

Barça president Joan Laporta appeared before the press to explain the sports and the economic projects. In addition, he talked about the team, Koeman’s future, new signings, his view on the last season, Messi’s future, Guardiola, Super League among a lot of other things.

On the reason for the press conference :

“There is a certain impatience and we want to explain ourselves and the reasons for the decisions we are taking. What I want to explain is the short-term roadmap. The rhythms are different. We have reached the end of the season and we are ending a project that has not worked and at the same time, we are dressing our project, which we are convinced will bring joy to Barcelona fans and will turn around the economic situation that we have found ourselves in. We also have plans for the audit, in-depth, in all areas, also sports and Espai Barça, including cybersecurity.”

On Koeman :

“At Barça, there are no transitional seasons. We have respected the season in which we have arrived and as we told the coach, in the end, we would analyze, and then we will comment and evaluate the decisions for the future. We have always acted with the utmost respect for Koeman, a Barça legend and a professional who is doing his job. We have arranged to meet each other next week.”

On Messi :

“Messi’s new contract is going well, but it has not been finalized. We must continue working with all the executives involved. We will make a proposal that is within the possibilities of the club and is up to the task. The relationship is good and we are preparing whatever is necessary within the possibilities for Leo to continue.”

On the sports project :

“Next week, we will announce new additions for the first team. The rhythm is different. The environment wants me to go fast, but let’s go step by step. We must step firmly because we must reconcile two antagonistic situations.”

On the Super League :

“We will never turn our backs on movements and less if the greats of Europe are there. With all the reservations, when we arrived we decided that we had to be there and we made a reservation conditioned on the opinion of the members because we are a club that belongs to the members. Our position is to defend the interests of Barça and help make football sustainable. The clubs are suffering and if the big ones suffer, with losses and debt, it will end up affecting all the clubs. Our position is that of dialogue with the federations. I have a fluid relationship with Rubiales and Tebas and I have spoken with Ceferin. Solutions have always been found. It started with the G-14. It is not new, and there have been demands that have been solved. Normally, the demands come from the big clubs, which are the ones that yield the most footballers.”

On the economic theme :

“I will not be able to be very precise because the audit will end in July. On June 20, we will hold the assembly and we will have more information. Things are coming up that we will have to solve. Some things are worrying, surprising and others are complicated but we have a solution. We will be transparent to the maximum because when we will be meeting, it will have to be explained. News has come out that is very close to reality, but I will not comment on it until we have the result of the audit and we have studied it in depth.”

Message to the fans :

“I will ask the fans for patience, optimism, and conviction that the next season will be successful. I am very happy with how it is working and the creation of the teams will please the fans.”

On his football ideology :

“It has always been Johan Cruyff. We are inspired by him. In football and also in all sections. We are brave, we like to win and win by playing well. We have references in different sports who help us make decisions.”

On the responsibility to the previous board in the current economic situation :

“News like these are surprising and worrying. Let the audit end because we will ask for a purge of responsibilities. They have led us to a delicate economic situation, there are significant losses and a very large debt. Fortunately, Barça has some assets that are very powerful. We have many proposals in many senses of debt restructuring, sponsorships, etc. I see that there is interest in Barça. We have to do it with a lot of judgment. We are working to put the club on the road to success again.”

On the removal of Xavi Pascual and Andreu Plaza and continuity of Koeman :

In the case of Xavi Pascual, we found an inherited contractual situation that we could not allow because it entailed certain obligations if we won the Champions League. We wanted to eliminate that clause and Xavi refused. Koeman has one more year on his contract and has the peace of mind that there is no need to rush. We were scared yesterday by his episode of anxiety. He undergoes regular check-ups for the heart attack he suffered, but he is fine and we are speaking with respect we have for him. We will make the decision together. With Pascual and Plaza, we could make the decision. With Koeman, we have to see if he is in the dynamic that we want. His attitude has been impeccable.

On Koeman’s future :

“I have already told you what I had to say. We are evaluating the season, he has a contract with the club, we have a very direct relationship. We are in negotiations to bring positions closer to what we want to share, and in those conversations, everything is evaluated. We are on the right track. We do not want to leave anything to talk about and specify. We want to work to share a model of football so that nothing escapes us. The management and the coach have to be involved. Koeman will know our decision first.”

On the beginning of a new cycle :

“We are talking with all the footballers to share objectives and criteria. In recent years, there has not been the necessary demand. If we lost, there were no consequences. The right messages were not sent from above. We have to find footballers who want to win, finish their career at the top and it is a job being carried out by the sports management.”

On the possible return of Guardiola :

“What comes to mind is that I want him to win the Champions League on Saturday. I think it will be wonderful for him and also for all of us who love him. I have not come here to explain my dreams but I would like them to come true.”

On Xavi :

“We owe respect to Koeman, who has a contract in force and we are in contact with him. He cannot be ruled out. The other names that keep coming around, it seems good to me, because everyone wants to come and it has always happened, but we have a coach and it is necessary to speak and to take a time of reflection.”

On the renewal of Messi :

“We have made an offer within the possibilities of Barça. Leo sure deserves much more and can achieve more. But because of his desire to make Barça great, I think he is appreciating the effort we have made and I think he is very excited to continue. It is not a question of money, but of a team project with the possibility of winning everything. We are moderately optimistic.”

On the role of the players :

“The dressing room has an influence depending on the profile of players you have because it will make you decide the profile of the coach you need. Their role is to play and that of the board, to choose the coach. We know what is required at Barça. It will be a decision of the board. The new photo that the team will have will bear our stamp, not only the coach and the coaching staff.

On adjustment of the wage bill :

“We are reversing the economic situation. We have the wage bill at 110 percent of the expected income that we have inherited. Between salaries and amortizations, we are at more than 600 million. This has to be adjusted. We have to reduce expenses and bring income. Rakuten is in its last year of the contract and we would like to continue with them. We are already in talks, but we have new offers that improve a lot what we have. Then there are new sponsorships that now we do not have but we are working on.”

On Espai Barça :

“The audit will determine the final budget that will be more than planned. We will fall short. What has been asked of the City Council is an improvement plan. They were receptive and by the end of the year, we will have the license to start the project. Specifically, the Palau and remodeling of the stadium. The project has become obsolete and we will have to make some changes that will please everyone.”

On his relationship with Tebas :

“It surprises me that when I speak in private it is a treatment of mutual respect and appreciation. In public, it is presented with a certain aggressiveness, and sometimes it surprises me. If we promote dialogue, I am surprised by some statements. But what we always ask for is respect for Barça. Each of us has our way of being and expressing ourselves and I prefer to think that he is also in favor of dialogue. He knows football perfectly and has shown proven experience and is successful. There are some divergent points and there have always been points of conflict between organizers and clubs. Let’s see if we can sit together and find agreements.”

On the renovation of the stadium :

“The project of the Camp Nou must be made compatible with the use of assistance. There will be a time, we estimate it in eight months, when the roof will have to be done and we will not be able to use the stadium. We will have to move, but it won’t be as long as we originally thought. We want the public to be at the stadium as soon as possible.”

On what has been asked by Messi to renew :

First, he asks for affection and to feel comfortable. To be comfortable, to smile again, he must win. Therefore he must see that he can win. It is what he has in a process of reflection, but he is putting a lot on his part, because he knows about the effort that we are making.”

On the last season :

“I like football and there have been things that I have not liked. We have also enjoyed. In Paris we did not qualify, because the first leg was a disaster. We played a game that showed us that we can be much superior. The system and the right decisions still have a way to go. That is why we demand to be more competitive and make it clear that if you don’t win, things happen. Barça compete to win and there have been games and decisions that we didn’t like. Others, like the Cup final, we have liked. It is the permanent contradiction in which the team has been installed for several seasons. We won the Cup and had a disastrous end to the league. Faced with this, we have to make decisions.”

On guarantees and change of course in the economic section :

“Jaume Giró, current Minister of Economy, decided not to continue for the reasons he explained to me and I understood. We have highly qualified people to direct the economic field of the club. The guarantee is available, a guarantee of 125 million and I must tell you that it is not easy for anyone to achieve it. We are satisfied to have achieved it and I hope that the government will promote and prosper a change.”

On Xavi as a potential candidate for the coach :

“Xavi will be a great coach, but we cannot say so yet. Besides, he is a friend. They told me that experience would help me make decisions. And it is true that it helps, but at the moment we are living in a different situation than the one we had. In 2003, when we bet on Rijkaard or 2008, when we did it with Guardiola. The principles are the same but the situations are different.”

On what has changed about Messi :

“To the culés, I tell them that it is going well, that it is not done yet, and that we must continue so that it is done. It is not that he asks me for affection verbally, but that you notice that he wants to enjoy the years that he has left and he will do it being at ease with the environment, with the board, with the sports director, with the coach, with the teammates. He is a person with a lot of character, who has matured a lot and is making many efforts to understand us. He had a president with whom he ended up very disappointed and now he has a president with whom he is comfortable. He wants Barça to think big and he wants experience and proven success, another demand, another motivation, and with me as president he has it. His perception is this and that is why he is helping us.”

On possible sanctions in the Champions League :

They look for something other than what we were looking for years ago. Football calls for innovation. We continue to be in contact with all the clubs that started this project. Some are not interested, because they have resources that not all of us have, because they have countries behind them. We are also to blame for the current situation, for not having managed things well. Whatever they are trying to do to us, I am not so clear that they can do it. We are not going to stand still. There is the TAS and the courts and if they sanction, we will defend our rights. Sustainability is that there are logical criteria to manage new income. All clubs are at a loss. This has to be corrected, but not by making more competitions so that there is more to distribute. That only serves to get votes. It cannot be understood that more competitions are made with the same resources to distribute.”

On the club’s capacity to sign players :

“We are fighting to reverse the financial situation and we are sure that we will succeed. We are optimistic that in a year and a half, maximum two seasons our club will be financially healthy. All the teams are struggling to sign new players, it is hard work for our executive team, our CEO. I am optimistic and we will have a competitive team for next season.”