Lionel Messi ‘has a 60 to 65 per cent chance’ of staying at Barcelona beyond this season as Joan Laporta return puts club’s ‘Moscow winter’ behind them

The future is looking brighter for Barcelona after the return of Joan Laporta as president, which makes Lionel Messi more likely to stay at the Camp Nou beyond this season.

Josep Maria Bartomeu left the Catalan club in serious financial difficulty and with Messi’s future unresolved, but the return of Laporta gives Barca fans cause for optimism.


Laporta won Monday’s election by a landslide

The new president returns for a second reign after his first, between 2003 and 2010, brought unprecedented success with Pep Guardiola as manager and Messi as talisman.

Messi, 33, is still out of contract at the end of the season following his very public fallout with Bartomeu last year, and the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City this summer.

But according to talkSPORT’s Spanish football expert Graham Hunter, the chances of the Argentine superstar staying at Barcelona have just increased dramatically.

“The chances were nil last summer,” Hunter said. “They were about 25 per cent in the autumn, and I think they’ve increased to about 60 or 65 per cent. So I think he’ll stay.


Messi might yet sign new terms with Barcelona

“They still have to offer him the money, we’re back to money again.

“They have to say, ‘Here’s what we value you staying’. And if they get that right, then maybe he stays.”

Recent financial figures showed the LaLiga giants’ debt at £1.1billion (€1.2bn) with £648million (€730m) of that due in the short term while £236million (€266m) has to be paid to banks by June 30.

Spanish publication El Mundo claimed the LaLiga giants are ‘on the verge of bankruptcy’, meaning Laporta inherits a rather difficult situation.

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A new deal for Messi won’t be cheap and there are questions over whether Barca can afford it

However, Hunter believes Barcelona are emerging from their crisis now, with some seriously promising talent emerging and a manager who can restore good times to the Spanish club,

“Messi is happier than he was last August and playing well, he’s LaLiga’s top scorer,” Hunter continued.

“Given he’s turning 34, don’t anybody tune in and expect him to be playing like he was when he was 24.

“But he’s still exceptional. I won’t go through the team one-by-one, but Pedri is looking like he’ll be on the scale of [Andres] Iniesta and Xavi. He is an extraordinary footballer, beautiful to watch.

“They’ve got Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong performing, Antoine Griezmann performing, that’s very good.

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Pedri has hit the ground running at Barca

“He’s inherited a coach he knows well [Ronald Koeman]. People thought he was going to cause problems in the dressing room, but he hasn’t. He’s put a lot of things right. There’s a chance of a trophy.

“He’s inheriting a difficult situation, particularly financially. But it feels like spring, not just in calendar terms, but in terms of Barcelona, compared to the beginning of the season when it was definitely a heavy Moscow winter.”

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