Barcelona 'hero' Eric Abidal will be my sporting director - Joan Laporta
Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has confirmed that Eric Abidal will return to the club as a sporting director if he wins the election.
Laporta, who was president between 2003 and 2010, has confirmed he is running in next month's election and he was the overwhelming leader in recent readers' polls conducted by Madrid-based papers AS and Marca.
Abidal -- who played for Barca between 2007 and 2013 while also returning for the Blaugrana after undergoing a liver transplant in 2012 -- retired as a player last year and was thought to be close to returning to the Camp Nou in a backroom role in February.
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Laporta says that the former defender will be back and involved with transfers should he become president, with Sport quoting him as saying: "He's one of our heroes for all that he has won and because of the energy he transmits to all of us working on this campaign. He will be sporting director [if I'm elected].
"We are thinking of players than can adapt to our model. I know a lot of agents and am in communication with them. Abidal knows all about that, it's up to him."
Barca won the Treble last season in Luis Enrique's first campaign in charge at the Camp Nou, and Laporta said of the coach: "It's fair that Luis Enrique continues at Barca. He's returned the [Johan] Cruyff philosophy to the scene with some variations, like [Frank] Rijkaard and [Pep] Guardiola did. We are in agreement that he should continue."
The 52-year-old indicated on Sunday that he would scrap the club's Qatar Airways shirt-sponsorship deal if re-elected, going on to say: "I don't understand people who say the only option for success is Qatar. Either they are working there or they have something to explain.
"We prefer to be linked with UNICEF. We don't share [the ideas of the] political regime in Qatar. It gives the impression anything can be bought for money; that is not Barca. We are UNICEF. They are Qatar."
Barca are currently banned from signing players until January 2016 after being found guilty of repeatedly breaching transfer regulations by FIFA, and Laporta is keen to restore the club's famous La Masia academy to restore its reputation.
"It is a question of identity and an important pillar to create a sustainable and solid club," he continued. "We want La Masia to function well again. It's allowed us to achieve great success. We want players coming out of La Masia for the first team at a high level, like with [Andres] Iniesta, [Sergio] Busquets, Pedro, Xavi and [Lionel] Messi.
"I have a telepathic relationship with Messi. He knows that I think. I feel good with all the players. I'm sure that [Messi] knew before me that I was going to stand in the election because he is a genius."
Laporta went on to criticise current president Josep Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell for their roles in Barca's recent crises, adding: "They are inseparable. I have no doubt that one is behind the other, I'm sure they are working together.
"If they say otherwise, don't believe them. Winning the treble has been a liberation for all the mistakes they have committed. They are in court for corruption, fraud... Now we can't sign players because of errors they have made. The treble has been the perfect excuse to divert the attention.
"I see no similarities between them and my model. Now La Masia is dismantled. We left them the best Barca in history to enjoy and they've ended up in Qatar, with Barca B relegated."