Joan Laporta projected to win Barcelona presidential election as Lionel Messi and Co cast their votes

Joan Laporta is projected to win the Barcelona presidential election.

An exit poll conducted by Catalan television station TV3 has projected Laporta to triumph with 58.3 per cent of the vote over Victor Font (31.3 per cent) and Toni Freixa (9.3 per cent).

Laporta was previously president during one of the club’s most successful periods with Pep Guardiola at the helm and Lionel Messi the talisman – and keeping the Argentina star will be his biggest, immediate priority.

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Messi was pictured casting his vote earlier in the day, with the result expected to be announced late on Sunday night.

Messi – a target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – has publicly discussed his uncertainty over the club’s direction, and hopes the next president of Barcelona has a clear plan to return them to former glory

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Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who was was among four ex-Barcelona officials arrested in a corruption probe by Catalan police last weekend, also cast his vote at the Nou Camp.

Bartomeu spent the night at a Catalan police station after being detained along with current chief executive Oscar Grau, director of legal services Gomez Ponti, and advisor to the president Jaume Masferrer.

Despite the scandal, Barca were looking to make the vote a positive occasion, hoping the next president can lay out a path back to domestic and European dominance; and one that will include their talisman Messi.

By the opening of in-person voting at 9am on Sunday, more than 20,000 of the 110,290 members had cast theirs by postal ballot. The initial vote was supposed to take place on January 24 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The club set up six locations for voting in order to manage safe social distancing measures; at the Nou Camp, in Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa and Andorra.

Current first-team players Jordi Albia, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto cast their votes, as well as ex-defender Carlos Puyol and manager Carlos Unzue.

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