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

Semedo Griezmann Lenglet y Arthur se reincorporan a los entrenamientos del Barça

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

The 32-year-old forward told Barcelona-based radio station RAC1 he felt "very badly treated" by Spain as he and his father were investigated for filing fraudulent tax returns. "I want to thank the fans for the affection they showed me this weekend, but if nothing changed, we will have to sit down and talk about my situation again".

"At that time, with the Hacienda mess, I had the mind to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but for wanting to leave Spain".

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.

While the Argentina striker admits there isn't "anything new" to add about a contract extension, his current deal ends in 2021, he sees his future at the Spanish champions.

Instead he is putting his family first.

"Yes, my idea is to stay for many years".

"And they used to do two against one against me, and [Sergio] Ramos came to press Messi where this big space used to be created and when Messi got [the ball] he used to play for [David] Villa or for Pedro in that position". It is increasingly clear that I will end my career here.

As for his worst years, Messi admits a high profile tax case almost forced him into quitting Barcelona. "The club decided Valverde would continue and for me that was a joy, good for stability and he is a coach we support and love".

"There was a time when I ended up exhausted by a lot of circumstances, it has happened several times, especially in 2013 and 2014, with the problems with the treasury and everything that came out".

"I wouldn't like to break up the friendships that my children have made here, as happened to me when I was little".

Messi has set his sights on winning the Champions League having come so close last season.



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