Former Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, who held the position from 2003-2010, is set to compete for the position again, with former defender Eric Abidal as his assistant.
With the political and legal fallout surrounding Sandro Rossell’s departure, Barcelona were thrown into a uncomfortable position of their own making. , Sandro Rossell took over from Laporta in 2010 but was forced to resign in January 2014 after he and the club were accused of an alleged tax fraud in the signing of the Brazil forward Neymar. He insisted the signing had been a correcta .
Josep Bartomeu took over as the interim president, and oversaw one of Barcelona’s most successful campaigns in recent memory. With the general goodwill of the supporters behind him, Bartomeu decided to run for president, despite being named a defendant in the Rossell case himself.
Despite the treble campaign, ex-players, supporters and players alike have openly favoured Laporta over Bartemou. His reign coincided with Barca’s longest spell of dominance, cultivating the world’s best talents indigenously, and winning a glut of silverware. Supporters alike yearn for Barcelona to return to the cleanly run, beautiful footballing machine, that recaptured the hearts of fans and neutrals alike. With Rossell’s reign encountering innumerable controversies, culminating in a high profile scandal, that Barcelona might do well with better PR.
Having vowed to restore the ‘identity’ of the club, which he believes has been morphed and marginalised to the demands of modern football, Laporta’s aim for Barcelona remains to mitigate the damage dealt by his predecessors, and ensure that to thrive in the future, the club ideologically in tune with their past.
His changes concern nearly every aspect of the clubs’ functioning, charting out a new path for this dominant Barca side to continue it’s successful run.
As part of the deal with Qatar, Bar a scrapped their policy of not displaying the name of a shirt sponsor and relegated the logo of their long-term collaborator Unicef to the back of their jerseys, angering many of the cluba s members.
Laporta suggested the Unicef logo would be restored to the front of the shirt in place of Qatar Airways but did not say how he might make up for the lost revenue of some a 30m (A?22m) a season. He did however claim,
a Having money is important but it is not everything in the world. Principles come before money,a
Having overseen a period of financial balance under his first term, few would doubt Laporta’s ability to arrange an alternate source of income, though it might not be as equivalent.
Laporta has been a keen admirer of the former Roma and Celta boss. Hailing his tactics, Laporta feels his continued influence is integral for the continued success of the club.
“It’s fair that Luis Enrique continues at Bar a. He’s returned the Cruyff philosophy to the secene with some variations, like Rijkaard and Guardiola did. We are in agreement that he should continue.“
With Enrique penning a new three-year deal, Laporta will be eager to forge a strong relationship, that should usher in an era of dominance akin to what he had with Rijkaard and Guardiola.
The past five years have seen fewer and fewer academy products promoted to the first team. With promising talents such as Jonathan Dos Santos and Thiago Alcantara finding homes elsewhere, Barcelona have had to flex their financial muscle and pay exhorbitant amounts to sign some of the world’s best players.
Though such a strategy has yielded silverware, Laporta feels that the La Masia needs to be re-engineered to ensure more youth talents get a crack at the first team.
Carrying on from his statements about philosophy, Laporta claimed;
“It is a question of identity and an important pillar to create a sustainable and solid club. We want La Masia to function well again. It’s allowed us to achieve great success. We want players coming out of La Masia for the first team at a high level, like with Iniesta, Busquets, Pedro, Xavi and Messi.”
To assist him in the dealings of the academy, as well as potential transfers, Laporta has enlisted the services of former Barcelona right-back Eric Abidal, announcing him to be his sporting director, if elected. Despite having left the club in tenuous circumstances, the former French right back is both adored and respected by the club.
Bar a is more than a club and I wanted to carry on working and maintain a link to that, said the former player, in reference to his continued commitment to the club.
As a self proclaimed democrat and a political figure amongst the Catalan Community, Laporta looks to have a clear game-plan for Barcelona’s future. With financial stability slowly returning to the Catalan club, Laporta’s emphasis on philosophy and culture could create a winning formula that can ensure Barcelona’s continued success. However, Enrique’s gameplay has broken the traditional systems and moulds in place at Barca, to give the Catalan club a more modern grounding. If Laporta aims to restore the old ways at any cost, it is unlikely that Enrique will bend to the restriction on playing style.