Lionel Messi reveals he almost left Barcelona in wake of tax charges

9 October 2019

Lionel Messi plans to end his career at Barcelona despite admitting he wanted to quit the club and the country in the wake of his tax bill row with the Spanish government.

The Argentina international was found guilty of defrauding the authorities of £3.6million between 2007 and 2009 and, despite having made a corrective payment of £4.4m in 2013, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, which was reduced to a fine of £223,000 in 2017.

It almost forced Messi out of the club he joined in 2001 as a 13-year-old.

“In 2013/14 I did want to leave Barca. There was a situation that went beyond what I felt for the club,” he told Rac 1 Radio.

“At that time, with the mess of the treasury, I wanted to leave, not wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain. I felt mistreated.”

There would have been no shortage of suitors had he gone through with his intention but Messi accepts no-one actually considered he was serious.

“I never had an official offer because everyone knew my idea to stay here,” he added.

With the issue now in the past the 32-year-old Messi is looking to the future but dismissed the notion he would want to return to his homeland to end his playing days at boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys.

Instead he is putting his family first.

“Yes, my idea is to stay for many years. I’ve always thought this way and nothing has changed,” he added.

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