BARCELONA

Messi and Barça team-mates vote in presidential election

Barcelona first team players including Lionel Messi turned out to vote in the presidential poll to elect Josep Maria Bartomeu's successor.

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Messi and Barça team-mates vote in presidential election
ALBERT GEA REUTERS

Lionel Messi was among the Barcelona players to cast his vote in the club's presidential election on Sunday.

Former president Joan Laporta is favourite to return for a second term in charge, with Victor Font and Toni Freixa the other men in the running. A sometimes ill-tempered campaign was extended when a rise in coronavirus cases put back the original polling day of 24 January. And further tumult was added to proceedings this week when ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested amid raids on Barcelona's headquarters by Catalan police this week. Bartomeu was provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

Messi casts his vote

Elections were called after Bartomeu stood down in October, following a turbulent period in which Messi sought to leave the club. But Messi, who is out of contract in June and yet to commit to his next move, arrived to vote alongside fellow first-teamers Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Riqui Puig, as well as ex-Blaugrana forward Luis Enrique.

Laporta said this week he was the only candidate who could ensure Messi would stay at Camp Nou, while Font believes his proposal of bringing in Barcelona great Xavi as head coach would be persuasive to his former team-mate.

Barcelona beat Osasuna 0-2 on Saturday, with Ronald Koeman's side cutting the gap to leaders Atlético Madrid to two points - having played two games more. Atleti face Real Madrid – third and three points shy of Koeman's men – in Sunday's Madrid derby.