Barcelona’s presidential candidate Víctor Font has revealed his desire to bring Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola back to the club in order to keep Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from his post as Barcelona president on Tuesday. Bartomeu had been under pressure for months following the club's disappointing 2019/20, which concluded with the 8-2 humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich, in addition to an array of behind the scenes turmoil.
The former president's relationship with Messi was less that positive, and although the Barcelona talisman was unable to secure a move away from the club during the window after handing in a transfer request, he will be able to leave Camp Nou for free in the summer of 2021 following the expiration of his contract.
Font - currently one of two main candidates to succeed Bartomeu - outlined his plan to persuade Messi to stay by bringing back figures from Barcelona's glory days.
“Most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club, like Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol,” Font told Sky Sports News (via the Guardian).
“They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barça today – we need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project.
“The only thing Messi needs is to know he is part of a competitive project that aspires to win the next Champions League. We have no doubt that if we basically have the honour to take the helm of FC Barcelona we will be able to achieve that [Messi staying].”
After handing in a transfer request during the window, Messi was linked with a move to Manchester City and a reunion with Guardiola, but his €700m release clause prevented a Nou Camp exit.
Guardiola and Messi won nine major trophies in four years together at Barcelona. The Man City manager's contract at the Etihad expires in the summer of 2021.