Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa are the last three candidates in the running for the next president of Barcelona.
Former President Laporta, who ran from 2003 to 2010, received the best-confirmed signatures of the three remaining candidates, according to a statement from the club.
Barcelona also said another candidate, Emili Rousaud, withdrew his offer on Thursday during the validation process.
The outcome of the elections, due to be held on January 24th, will have a huge impact on Lionel Messi’s future and whether he will stay at the club beyond the end of this season after this season.
Messi has said he will not support any of the candidates in this month’s election as he is trying to distance himself from the procedures and insists he has not spoken to any of them.
The Argentina international filed a transfer request in Barcelona late last season, but the club’s former president Josep Maria Bartomeu did not let him leave the Nou camp despite Messi’s camp claiming that there was a clause in his contract that said this will allow him to leave for free.
Messi hasn’t been shy to point out that he believes the club are in disrepair and hopes that the next Barcelona president has a clear plan to bring the club back to its former glory.
Messi 360: The view from … Barcelona
There’s not much that Barcelona’s interim board of directors can do to convince Messi to stay ahead of the election and sign another deal. This job will be in the hands of the new president.
But there are really only two favorites for the job; Joan Laporta, who was previously president, and Victor Font, the telecommunications entrepreneur.
While there is no indication that Messi prefers it either and the player has stayed out of the debate so far, Laporta has a good relationship with him after overseeing the most successful period in the club’s history with Guardiola as head coach.
And Laporta recently said he would do “everything possible” to keep Messi if he returns for another spell at the top
Font, meanwhile, wants to rebuild Barca from scratch. He produced his players from La Masia Academy and partnered with one of his best products – Messi’s former teammate Xavi – to return as head coach.
Xavi is expected to be part of Laporta’s deliberations, but of Messi, Font has said: “I am convinced that a competitive, exciting and especially in Messi’s case long-term project – one that could even go beyond the day Messi is going into retirement – we will convince him to stay. “
The front runners will emerge this month and are likely to indicate who will hold key positions in the hierarchy. These developments will shape Messi’s thinking, but it is only when the elections are held and a firm plan is presented that Messi’s future will be significantly affected.