Barcelona president Joan Laporta has praised the club’s board for rescuing the Spanish giants from their “terminal” financial situation.

Laporta, who returned as Barca president in November 2020, said they are “still working” to reduce the club’s debt and balance their books, but added that the club are in a much better position compared to when he arrived.

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“When we arrived over a year ago, the club was in a terminal [financial] situation,” Laporta told reporters. “We have restructured our debt, we have saved on financial costs, we have controlled our expenditure and we have increased our revenue.”

Laporta said in August that his board had inherited a debt of €1.35 billion, meaning Barca were unable to register a new contract for legend Lionel Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent last summer.

Barca financial vice-president Eduard Romeu said that the wage bill was €560 million, almost double that of Bayern Munich and €160m more than LaLiga rivals Real Madrid.

The Catalan club will hold an assembly on June 16 looking to get authorisation on several financial moves to boost Barca’s economy.

“If these financial operations are approved by our members, it will be good news for us,” Laporta said. “We will balance our books sooner than we expected.”

Laporta said he was hopeful of extending the contract of young midfielder Gavi, whose deal due to expire in next summer.

“We are optimistic,” Laporta said. “We obviously want Gavi to continue at Barca.”

Gavi, 17, made 34 league appearances for Barca this past season and became Spain‘s youngest goalscorer after netting against the Czech Republic in a 2-2 draw in the Nations League last weekend.

“We are close to reaching an agreement,” Laporta said. “It’s more special for us because he [Gavi] comes from our youth ranks. We want Gavi to stay. The player and his agent want it too.”

Meanwhile, winger Ousmane Dembele, who is a target of PSG and Chelsea, has not responded to a contract offer from Barca with his contract expiring this month.

“Ousmane had a renewal offer from us and we have no news that he has accepted it,” Laporta said.

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