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I’m proud of Barcelona ‘miracle’ since return – chief Laporta

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted the Catalan club are in a much better position now than when he was elected three years ago.

Thursday marks three years since Laporta edged out Victor Font to return to the presidency, having previously held the role between 2003 and 2010.

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Since then, Barça have won a first LaLiga title since 2019, but performances have dipped on the pitch this season, while they remain in excess of their €204 million ($222.3m) LaLiga-imposed annual spending limit.

Despite that, Laporta said the club are heading in the right direction, highlighting increased revenue, a reduced wage bill, the emergence of players from the academy and the redevelopment of Spotify Camp Nou as the legacies of his second tenure so far.

“The board of directors I have the honour to preside over and I are very proud of the work we have done,” Laporta said in an open letter published in Diario Sport.

“Undoubtedly, Barça are on the right track. The institution is strong, the club is well-organised, and with talent, bravery and professionalism, we have straightened things out and helped the club recover.

“It is worth remembering the situation we found in March 2021 when we were elected: the club’s equity was negative and the debt was astronomical, with a large short-term component.

“A private company would have gone into bankruptcy. But we did not shy away from such a threat and took courageous decisions. Without the help of all the staff at the club, the ‘miracle’ of saving the club from shipwreck would not have been possible.

“Our growth in the last three years is an objective reality. There is a clear improvement in income, a reduction in sporting salaries, which have gone from representing 98% of total income in the 2020-21 to 57% in 2023-24, a more than sustainable figure which is in the lower zone of the percentage recommended by UEFA.

“At the same time, the value of the first team squad has increased exponentially, with a firm commitment to the young talent developed in La Masia.”

Laporta’s comments paint a different picture to the one laid out by Gerard Piqué earlier this week. The former Barça defender urged the club not to deceive supporters about the financial situation, which he gathers “is not that good.”

Laporta acknowledged there is still work to be done, but he sold an exciting future as Barça kick on with the redevelopment of their Camp Nou home, which should be fully finished by 2026.

“The challenges for the coming years are based on accelerating the club’s business to complete the economic recovery and consolidate our position at the forefront of world sport,” the Barça chief added.

“The central project of our mandate is Espai Barça, headlined by the new Camp Nou, an essential project to keep Barça at the forefront of world football and to become one of the pillars of the club’s economic viability.

“We are talking about a new stadium to keep winning, both in sporting and economic terms. It will be the best stadium in the world, the dream of all Barcelona fans.”

Outgoing coach Xavi Hernández praised Laporta’s stewardship of Barça in his Thursday news conference.

“From the inside, the balance of his three years is very positive,” he said of the president’s tenure. “Without wanting to criticise anyone, I think the president found a club in a really tough moment financially, also on an institutional and sporting level.

“I think he’s doing a good job. I have already said the club is halfway down the path towards doing great things again. For me, Laporta’s the best president this club has ever had and he’s showing it again.

“He’s a leader, he is positive… if there is one person capable of leading Barça out of this situation, it’s him.”

On the eve of his third anniversary as Barça president, Laporta had appeared at the premiere for a new documentary based on the origins of defender Ronald Araújo.

Araújo is out of contact in 2026 and has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich or the Premier League to help soften Barça’s financial problems.

However, Laporta told reporters if it was solely up to him he would hand the Uruguay international a “lifetime contract,” making it clear he hopes the centre-back stays put.

Araújo’s future is one of several situations Laporta, along with sporting director Deco, must resolve this summer. Finding a replacement for Xavi is at the top of the to-do list.

Barça, who won LaLiga last season, are eight points behind leaders Real Madrid and have been eliminated from the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Supercopa.

They face Napoli in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

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