Barcelona's presidential elections take place this weekend against the backdrop of the most recent former incumbent being taken into police custody earlier this week as part of an investigation into corruption that saw the club's headquarters and even Camp Nou itself searched.
The drama was not limited solely to off the field matters either as Barca overturned a two-goal deficit to qualify for the final of the Copa del Rey against 10-man Sevilla with Gerard Pique scoring a vital late equalizer to force extra time before injuring himself.
Next week promises to bring some much-needed clarity to the Catalan giants with the team travelling to France to face Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie just days after learning the identity of the new president and 4-1 down.
ℹ️ Official statement from FC Barcelona— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 1, 2021
The chances of a repeat of the 2017 Remontada are slim this time around but Ronald Koeman's men will be buoyed by the way they swept Sevilla aside 3-0 to complete a 3-2 aggregate come from behind victory but a solid plan for the future is still the greatest remedy for Barca's current troubles.
Joan Laporta, already president between 2003-10 in a period that included six trophies in a single year under Pep Guardiola, is the lead candidate for the job -- despite the difficulty in lining up a Ronaldinho-esque marquee name for this summer, the move Laporta made his first time in charge.
Victor Font is arguably Laporta's strongest opponent with Xavi expected to replace Koeman should he win.Iif successful, he's also promised a position on the board of governors to Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni in what would be a financially responsible era without bold but unlikely promises of Neymar's return and the like.
Finally, Toni Freixa is going back for another attempt to lead the club after his failure back in 2015 and has history on his side having worked for the club on multiple occasions and boardroom experience under Sandro Rosell too.
The challenges ahead
Regardless of the winner's identity, it does not change the fact that there has arguably never been a worse time to take over as Barca president with mounting financial problems and major stagnation on the continental scene at the top of the list.
First and foremost, though, comes the saga of Messi's future with the Argentina international and club legend out of contract this summer and already free to speak with other clubs -- if he chooses to -- with the likes of PSG and Guardiola's Manchester City heavily linked.
Messi, now 33, is on a $662 million contract over a four-year period that will have to be tackled by any one of these candidates if they are named new president whether that is renegotiating that rate or moving on from the ageing South American entirely.
With so much strong young talent coming through at present, such as Ansu Fati and Pedri, the time appears right for a reset at Camp Nou and with gross debt reaching around $1.43 billion and preventing a much-needed facelift for the old stadium.
All of this has contributed to an entirely dissatisfactory situation in European competition where Barca are regularly dismantled by stronger sides like PSG so far this season and Bayern Munich in last season's infamous 8-2 UCL catastrophe.
The bloated wage bill, Messi's future and an inability to fix things through further signings suggests that a fire sale could be an option for any of the candidates in order to rebuild while Font's proposed appointment of Xavi as coach would likely ensure the use of La Masia in that reconstruction.
Of all of the candidates, Font's plan appears to be the most concrete, yet it is Laporta who is already behaving like he has won the thing and should be considered the most popular figure while Freixa is a major outsider when compared with either of the other two.
Whatever happens, there is no easy solution to Barca's current problems, and it simply will not be an overnight recovery as the La Liga giants fight to avoid a second consecutive trophyless season with Copa del Rey success more likely than the league or UCL victory.
Things might get worse before they get better with a European exit at the hands of PSG looking likely and Atletico Madrid leading the way domestically, but this presidential election is the first step to any potential road to recovery for the Blaugrana.