Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed he turned down a €250 million bid from Inter Milan for Lionel Messi in 2006 and said he can be the person to convince the forward to sign a contract extension.
Messi, 33, is out of contract next summer and is free to negotiate with other clubs from January onwards having tried to quit Barca in August.
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Barca are not yet able to sit down with Messi's father, who is also his agent, and offer him a new deal because they have been without a president since Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October.
Laporta, who was Barca president between 2003 and 2010, wants the top job at Camp Nou again and said his special relationship with Messi will help him convince the Argentina international to stay at the club.
"Messi wanted to leave because he was very disappointed with how [the previous board] treated him," Laporta said in a news conference on Monday. "If there had been elections earlier, maybe we would not be in this situation.
"But Messi loves Barca and I know that he will give us the chance to have a conversation to help him decide the best for him and for Barca -- although we've not spoken yet.
"I know he has offers from other clubs, but he always has. [Former Inter owner Massimo] Moratti wanted to pay €250m for him in 2006 and I said no.
"Messi and his family are happy here, in Catalonia, they like the life they have in Barcelona, in Castelldefels. It's not a question of money, we just have to be up to scratch as a club.
"The best thing for him is to wait and see who wins the elections and what they propose. I think Messi, with a good proposal, would choose Barca.
"He knows me, he knows us, how we work, how we treat the players. If there's one thing I am proud of, it's always keeping my word, which he knows from working together before."
Messi's future is expected to dominate the electoral campaign, with the election set for Jan. 24, although Ronald Koeman's future at coach and questions about who will fill the sporting director role could also play a part.
Laporta said Koeman deserves respect and has a contract at the club. He also praised the Dutchman for the work he's done so far in difficult circumstances.
In contrast to 2003, when he promised David Beckham and ended up signing Ronaldinho, Laporta chose not to promise any big signings this time due to the club's current financial situation.
"[Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe] are both great players but we will look in-house before turning to the transfer market," he said when asked about two of Europe's most in-demand forwards.
"We can't let top-level players leave the club. And talking about signings would destabilise the current players, who I want to be focused on bringing success back to the club."