FC Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has made a bombshell claim about Lionel Messi's future at the club.
Laporta was speaking during a debate with fellow nominees Toni Freixa and Victor Font ahead of Barcelona's presidential elections next week, when he addressed the issue of the Argentine forward's future t the club.
Messi's contract with Barca is set to expire at the end of the season and Laporta, who previously served as the club's president between 2003 and 2010, has claimed the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will leave if he is no elected.
"I have a great relationship with Leo [Messi] and he will consider whatever proposal I make," the 58-year-old lawyer said, per Marca. "If I don't win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona."
"...He will weigh up the offer we make him. I'm convinced that if the other candidates win, Messi will not remain at Barcelona. He wasn't happy during Freixa's time on the board.
Messi is currently the highest-paid player in the world and, with Barcelona facing mounting debts, there are doubts that the club can retain his services, but Laporta claimed that the financial aspect was not key to securing the 33-year-old's future.
"He's not guided just by money, he wants a competitive team to win," he added. "I'm sure he'll listen to my offer, just as I am [sure] that if someone else wins he will leave."
Barcelona reportedly still owe £112m in transfer fees to various clubs around the world