"I'm looking forward to seeing you again". That was the slogan on the banner of Joan Laporta (Barcelona, 1962) on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid. It was the best advertisement for his election campaign. Without being able to announce signings or coaches or anything that would cost the club an extra euro. Only his charisma. His memory. That of Guardiola's Barcelona that won everything and left a style of play for the history of football. He left a good taste in the mouth for the club members. His face was well-known, while that of the other candidates was not so familiar.
Laporta is facing a historic economic hole. A millionaire debt with banks, clubs, players... His first objective must be to look for credit. Banks or companies willing to join his project and turn the red numbers into black. With financial certainty, he will be able to tackle the next challenge: convincing Messi.
Laporta has to put the burofax behind him. In the last days of the campaign, he boasted that he was the only candidate who could convince Messi to stay at Barça. That's not why the members didn't vote for Laporta. Messi is not the future; he is hardly the present. Dressing Messi in azulgrana is good but getting Messi to be sold in order to save the club would be even better.
The tall tales of Xavi's return are over. He wasn't their coach and even if he had been. Koeman is under contract. Kicking him out means squandering millions of euros again and his work is not as bad. Laporta can buy time by turning the legend of that first Champions League into his new Guardiola. Fighting for La Liga and winning the Copa del Rey would be enough goals in a crazy year. The Dutchman is the perfect spokesman for the club and would take the media pressure off a president who seems satiated with the spotlight and fame.
Laporta will return Barça to an active role in Catalan independence. That is his political cause and he understands that it is the club's cause, too. With Bartomeu there was "freedom of expression" at Camp Nou with the banners, as the former president said. Communiqués against court rulings and arrests were part of that freedom. The pro-independence lobby wanted more and they will get it with Laporta. Their best soldier in the pro-independence media battle they are waging all over the world. The yellow ribbon stuck to the shield.
This should bring about an election for the Barça presidency. At the time it was Beckham and his possible arrival. It never happened, but even Manchester made a statement acknowledging conversations. Now there is only talk of quarry. And it is not the quarry of that 25 November 2012 that formed the starting 11 against Levante with Valdés; Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Pedro, Messi and Iniesta. The current line-up includes Ansu Fati, Araujo, Mingueza, Ilaix Moriba and Konrad. And they play very little. That's all there is. The Management Board did not want to sign Eric García and, for the moment, there is no money for stars.
Another mess for Laporta. He will have his first problem with Rubiales' RFEF because the new Barça president does not want Spain to play at the Camp Nou. Any political or sporting attempt to normalise this situation will be met with the outright refusal of a pro-independence president.
He needs to get on well with Tebas because he will be the one to certify the first guarantee that will sustain the club financially. In 2003 Laporta and Tebas did financial engineering. In 2021, football is not ready for more economic intrigues.
This is a very delicate subject and one that the candidates talk little about. Laporta announced that he will maintain and strengthen the sections. The millionaire basketball squad will be reinforced with Juan Carlos Navarro on the board. He wants to improve the futsal quarry and will have to decide whether to side with Rubiales' futsal or the LNFS. The same applies to handball. Football is the one that sustains the sections. That is the harsh reality.
Many fronts for a veteran president. The 42nd who occupies a self-destructive position that leaves no one in a good light. Let's give him 100 days and see if it all ends in gaslight.