Former Barcelona forward Rivaldo believes the club's newly elected president Joan Laporta could persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner's current contract with Barcelona is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning he will become a free agent this summer.
Lionel Messi was desperate to leave Barcelona after a humiliating end to the 2019-20 campaign in which the club went trophyless. The Argentine had a number of public spats with the Barcelona board and was left furious when the club decided to sell close friend and star striker Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid.
Lionel Messi was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, where he could have linked up with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. The deal, however, failed to materialise due to Lionel Messi's €700 million release clause. As a result, he decided to stay at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season and see out the remainder of his contract.
Barcelona endured a poor start to their 2020-21 campaign under new manager Ronald Koeman. However, the Catalans have shown signs of improvement under the Dutch manager in recent months despite being knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 stage by PSG.
Barcelona are currently second in the La Liga table, just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, and will face Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa Del Rey.
Rivaldo believes Barcelona's upsurge in form and the appointment of Joan Laporta as the club's president is enough to convince Lionel Messi to extend his stay with the Spanish giants.
"The election of Laporta, who I backed for the presidency, should reignite hopes of keeping Messi at the club. Laporta and Messi have a good relationship," said Rivaldo.
Barcelona will need to make moves in the summer transfer window to convince Lionel Messi to stay
Joan Laporta has promised Barcelona fans that the club will be active in the summer transfer window and will aim to sign its top targets. Their performance in the transfer window could also determine the future of Lionel Messi, who will be keen to see what plans Laporta and Koeman have in store for the club.
Barcelona's ability to spend in the summer could be limited due to the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The club have, however, been linked with moves for a number of top-quality free agents including Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Adding star quality could convince Lionel Messi to sign a new deal with the club, and assist manager Ronald Koeman during this transitionary phase for Barcelona.