On Sunday, Lionel Messi was seen voting in Barcelona’s critical presidential race, with the outcome potentially determining the Catalan captain’s future at the Camp Nou.
Following the divisive reign of Josep Maria Bartomeu, over 110,000 Barcelona club members will vote to determine who will lead the LaLiga side in the coming years.
Messi was given the option of voting for former Barcelona president Joan Laporta, the race’s favorite, or his presidential rivals Victor Font and Toni Frexia.
Messi was on the verge of leaving the club under Bartomeu’s leadership after submitting an unexpected transfer request last year, with the former Catalans president resigning at the end of the year.
The Argentine was dissatisfied with the club’s direction both on and off the field, and when his contract ends at the end of the season, he will be free to resign.
The presidential election in Barcelona may be the latest indicator of whether Messi will remain or leave the Spanish giants, with Laporta saying Messi will only stay if he is elected.
‘I have a really good friend with him,’ Laporta recently said of Messi’s future.
‘I’m confident that my bid will be accepted. And I’m certain that if one of the other two candidates wins, Messi will leave.’
If Freixa, a ‘continuity nominee’ for the presidency, is elected, Messi will step down. However, the 52-year-old has a slim chance of winning.
If Font wins, Messi will find himself on the outside looking in. Font has said that he wants to give Messi a “life contract,” but there isn’t the same intention to create a future around Messi as there is with Laporta.
The election was reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, and voting began at 9 a.m. local time. The polls will be open until 9 p.m. local time, with the results estimated around midnight.
Out of the 110,290 members who are registered to vote, 22,811 have opted to vote by mail. Polling stations have also been set up in Catalonia’s Girona, Tarragona, Tortosa, and Lleida, as well as in Andorra, according to the club, but 78,987 members have stated that they would vote at the Camp Nou.
The result of the presidential election may affect Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman’s future and possible successors.