Barca presidential candidate Laporta vows to unite the club

FILE PHOTO: Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta and candidate for FC Barcelona's next elections poses during an interview in their candidature headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) - Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced his candidacy for the vacant post on Monday, vowing to return the club to its former glories and unite the disgruntled fanbase.

Laporta, who held the role between 2003 and 2010, saw the club win numerous trophies under his stewardship and it was the 58-year-old who first appointed Pep Guardiola as coach in 2008.

"I want to unite all Barca fans, it's our brotherhood and I want to lead the side to win again," he told a news conference.

Barcelona missed out on the domestic title last season to Real Madrid and lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals. They are currently seventh in La Liga.

"I don't want to look back, no regrets. I want Barca to be for everyone and I'll work tirelessly for Barca to be a motor of optimism wherever you are in the world," added Laporta.

Laporta also spoke of his relationship with Lionel Messi, which he believes could work in his favour as the club attempt to convince their talismanic 33-year-old Argentina forward to stay following his disagreements with the previous board.

"Nobody can doubt that Messi loves Barca and I have a relationship of mutual respect with him and we get on very well," said Laporta.

"There's a long way to go, there's elections, I hope to be lucky enough to win the confidence of the members and I'm sure that when we get there, I'll talk to him - but I insist, Leo loves Barca and we have a fantastic relationship built on respect."

Elections will be held on Jan. 24 after previous incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu stepped down last month along with his board of directors following a vote of no confidence.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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