Barcelona president Joan Laporta: European Super League is still ‘alive’

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted that the controversial European Super League is still “alive”, despite the swift withdrawal of most of the founding clubs earlier this year.

The announcement in April of a newly-formed European Super League comprising Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus, and Inter Milan caused uproar among the football community. It was quickly abandoned after fan-led protests as the majority of clubs apologised for their involvement.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus remain in the seemingly doomed breakaway competition, with the other nine clubs all withdrawing and signing agreements with Uefa prohibiting them from repeating their actions.

Laporta, however, revealed Barca are still moving ahead with the plans.

“The project is alive. The three clubs who are defending the project are winning all the court cases,” he told television channel Esport 3.

“Uefa cannot stop it, and the pressure on English clubs, who were those behind the plans, hasn’t had any effect. Granted, it could have been presented in a better way.”

Barcelona’s well-documented financial problems – Laporta revealed last month the club is in €1.35 billion ($1.6bn) in debt – have led to the shock exit of Lionel Messi and loan departure of Antoine Griezmann back to Atletico. Meanwhile, senior players including Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique all took significant pay cuts to allow Barca to register new signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia, and Sergio Aguero.

Despite those issues, Laporta revealed that after becoming Barcelona president he made an approach to Brazilian forward Neymar about a return to the Camp Nou, four years after his €222m world record move to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We tried to sign Neymar. He contacted us, and he wanted to come – he was crazy to come back to the club,” Laporta said.

“However, back then we interpreted (La Liga’s) Financial Fair Play in another way. If we hadn’t have done so, we wouldn’t have made him an offer.”

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