Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has spoken of his ongoing "affection" for former boss Joan Laporta, but did not openly endorse any candidate in the club's upcoming presidential elections.
Laporta was previously Barca club chief from 2003 to 2010, and headed the board which appointed the then inexperienced Guardiola to take over as first-team coach in summer 2008.
Guardiola went on to win 14 trophies over the next four seasons, including two Champions League and three La Liga titles, but then left the club in 2012 after not always seeing eye to eye with Sandro Rosell -- who had replace Laporta as president following elections in 2010.
The now Bayern Munich coach, back at an event in Catalonia, said in Sport that he wished all candidates in the election good fortune, but was not hiding that he had a personal connection with Laporta due to a debt owed.
"All of the candidates for the presidency of the club have the capacity and I wish them all luck," Guardiola said. "But I cannot deny the affection I have for Joan Laporta is very big. I was nobody and he backed me. I hope it is a good campaign, and I am sure that the members will choose well."
Although still a paid-up ordinary member (soci) of the club, Guardiola said he would not be voting in the poll on July 18 as he will be with Bayern on their preseason tour.
"In the elections I only represent one vote," he said. "Unfortunately I will not be able to cast it, because I will be in China."
Laporta's official Twitter account soon retweeted a video of Guardiola making the comments, followed by a message reiterating their connection.
"He made good our decision," Laporta said. "He made even greater this marvellous club which is Barca."
El meu agraïment etern al Pep Guardiola. Ell va fer bona la nostra decisió. Ell va fer més gran aquest meravellós club que és el Barça.
- Joan Laporta Estruch (@JoanLaportaFCB) June 23, 2015
Laporta is currently one of two front-runners in the race, alongside outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who took over the position in January 2004 when Rosell surprisingly stepped down amid an official investigation into Neymar's transfer to the club the previous summer.
Rosell has since been rarely seen in public, and Bartomeu has been keen to say that while the pair remain friends, they no longer discuss official club matters.
However, outsider candidate Agusti Benedito has claimed in AS that Rosell is working behind the scenes to convince influential senior members to vote for Bartomeu.
"The penas [official supporters clubs] are receiving direct calls from Sandro, and he is asking for a vote for Bartomeu," Benedito said.