FC Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta is convinced that he is the only man who can guarantee that Lionel Messi will stay with club next season. He has also boldly stated that the Argentine star will leave the club if he does not win the upcoming elections.

Whether it is just a campaign strategy or not, Barcelona club members will have to think about what they want to happen in the future. Messi's fate is a top topic of discussion at the moment, with the club captain's contract expiring in June. The next president will be the man who holds the key to a contract renewal or an eventual exit.

Most fans are believed to want Messi to stay, and Laporta knows that. In a recent debate with fellow candidates Toni Freixa and Victor Font, Laporta emphasised his intention to convince Messi to renew his contract.

"I have a great relationship with Leo [Messi] and he will consider whatever proposal I make," he said, as quoted by Marca.

The other two candidates avoided the topic, which might be an indication that keeping Messi is not their top priority. After all, Barcelona is also in the middle of an institutional and financial crisis. They had already offloaded a number of expensive players, and Messi's possible departure will free up a lot of their budget.

"If I don't win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona," said Laporta, who pointed out that Messi will likely listen to him and consider his offer, but will not do the same for the other candidates. "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," he added.

Laporta also stated that Messi will not only be looking at the salary offer. The Argentine had expressed dissatisfaction over the way players were treated by the previous administration. He was also angered by the decisions that were made concerning transfers. When the club let go of Neymar Jr. and later Luis Suarez, Messi asked for a transfer. Only his massive release clause stopped him from leaving last summer.

With that clause no longer effective by June this year, Laporta claims that he can convince Messi to stay. It remains to be seen if the club members believe him. The elections will take place on March 7, and the real sentiments of the club members will come to light.

Lionel Messi and Josep Maria Bartomeu
If former Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had not blocked him, Lionel Messi looked certain to leave the club AFP / Manu Fernandez