Barcelona chief Joan Laporta is reportedly prioritising the signing of Erling Haaland before entering contract talks with Lionel Messi. However, it should be really be done the other way around. And that’s because, by ensuring Messi stays for the long-term, they’d have the perfect bait when it comes to snapping up the Borussia Dortmund striker.
Barcelona seemed a club in crisis just weeks ago, with the club trounced 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
However, since then, things have improved both on and off the pitch.
Barcelona appear to have found their best form again and now look well-placed to scrap with Atletico Madrid to win the La Liga title.
And Laporta, with his charm and enthusiasm, is back at the helm after being voted in as president following the abrupt departure of Josep Maria Bartomeu last year.
The Spaniard is determined to make a splash.
And he’d love Barcelona to win the race for Haaland, who has scored a stunning 31 goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League combined this term.
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Just about every club on the planet is keen to land the 20-year-old, but the Catalan giants have already initiated contact about a possible transfer this summer.
Laporta talked with Mino Raiola, the player’s agent, and his father, Alf-Inge Haaland, too.
And with Barcelona needing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, who controversially departed for Atletico Madrid in the summer, Haaland would certainly make sense.
It was recently reported that signing the Dortmund star is actually Laporta’s priority, despite Messi’s time with the club winding down.
And that would be a mistake.
Barcelona may want Haaland but they desperately need to keep hold of Messi who, despite entering the twilight years of his career, continues to show no signs of slowing down.
Messi initially experienced teething problems at the start of the campaign, something that’s understandable given the crisis of the summer and Ronald Koeman’s arrival as manager.
But he’s since bounced back to look his usual, brilliant self.
The 33-year-old has noticed 23 goals from 27 matches in La Liga this term, chipping in with ten assists along the way to boost his side’s chances of winning the title.
In the Champions League, he managed five goals from six matches.
And, in the Copa del Rey, he’s scored once as well as registering an assist ahead of the Copa del Rey final showdown with Athletic Bilbao later in the month.
Barcelona need Messi to stay.
Because what’s the use in signing Haaland if their talisman, the perfect partner in crime for the Norwegian, isn’t at the club anymore?
Manchester City retain strong interest in Messi, with Pep Guardiola long dreaming of a blockbuster reunion with the Barcelona star having mentored him between 2008 and 2012.
And Paris Saint-Germain are in the mix, too, especially with the future of Kylian Mbappe shrouded in uncertainty for the time being.
Barcelona would be wise to wait a little bit longer for Haaland and make Messi’s new contract the priority instead.
Because that could actually be an ace up their sleeve when it comes to negotiations.
Haaland would surely feel more-inclined to join a Barcelona team where Messi is there, instead of one without the Argentine.
And whether Barcelona end up changing their priority remains to be seen.