Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font has added to the uncertainty over Pep Guardiola’s long-term future by outlining his plan to take the Man City boss back to Camp Nou.
Guardiola, who spent four years as Barca boss, leading them to two Champions League titles, is out of contract at the Etihad next summer.
The Spaniard, 49, is yet to commence any discussions with the club over an extension, but speaking in September admitted his desire to stay.
“I would love to stay longer here,” he said. “It is a place I love to be but I have to deserve.
“This club achieved standards in the last decade but we have to maintain that and I have to deserve it.
“I am going to see if I deserve it this season in terms of how the club goes forward and improves.”
The suggestion from the club is that, if Guardiola wants to remain, then City chiefs will be delighted for him to sign a new deal.
Despite Guardiola's statement last month, it is very much in his own hands.
But now Font, the leading contender to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu following his resignation earlier this week - after months of criticism on Barcelona's ailing finances and struggles on the pitch - believes that enticing Guardiola back to Catalunya is the ideal starting point as he bids to rebuild a club that has been allowed to stagnate on Bartomeu’s watch.
And he also feels it will ensure Lionel Messi - whose contract with the Spanish club expires next summer - stays put.
He told Sky Sports News: "Replacing the best generation the world of football has ever seen, which I believe we have had over the last decade, is a big challenge.
"Particularly at a time when competition is intense and many clubs are owned by very powerful owners.
"FC Barcelona also need a significant investment to rebuild the stadium and all in a world which has been hit with one of the worst crises ever.
"It is clear we need a very solid plan to meet these challenges and this is what we have been doing over the last few years.
"It is our intention to build a very strong and competitive project and we are very lucky at Barca that we inherited a style of play that Johan Cruyff instilled throughout the organisation.
"And most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club - like Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol.
"They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barca today - we need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project.
"The only thing Messi needs is to know he is part of a competitive project that aspires to win the next Champions League.
"We have no doubt that if we basically have the honour to take the helm of FC Barcelona we will be able to achieve that.”
There are big questions over the respective roles that Xavi - currently coaching in Qatar - and Puyol - working as an agent - would potentially fill.
There are suggestions that Font's ideal is for Guardiola to be head coach, with Xavi as his No.2, being groomed to succeed his mentor, while Puyol takes a position as sporting director.
Guardiola left Barca eight years ago, after 14 major honours in four years.
Font also hit out at Bartomeu’s claims over Barcelona’s intention to be part of a new European Super League.
He said: "I was very surprised by that statement because I know the project is not a reality at this moment in time.
"So joining a competition that does not exist is kind of weird to say the least.
"If we have the honour to take the reigns of FC Barcelona we would be very much interested in understanding what type of alternatives there are and what type of interesting projects there are in the world of football and then based on that, we will make decisions.
"When I've been asked about this in the past I have always said that making whatever top European competition better, which is currently the Champions League, is something we should aspire to do.
"But at the same time having a strong national championship is good for the sport and footballing ecosystem."
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