Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi has admitted for the first time that he wanted to quit the La Liga club over his £2.95million tax row with the Spanish government.
The Argentine striker who has played for Barcelona for his entire professional career was in 2017 found guilty along with his father Jorge of defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009.
He was later fined €255,500 to avoid a 21-month prison sentence. His father’s 15-month sentence was replaced with a €180,000 fine.
Speaking in an interview with RAC1, the Argentine said: ‘At that time, with the mess of the treasury, I wanted to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain.
‘I felt that I was being very mistreated and I didn’t want to stay here. I never had an official offer because everyone knew my idea to stay here.’
When pushed further on his tax fraud case, which ended with him having to pay a £223,000 fine, he added: ‘It was very difficult for me and my family because people don’t know much about what’s going on.
‘The truth is that it was hard for everything that happened but it is better that my children were small and did not know.’
When questioned about his future, Messi who he has scored 604 goals for the club in 692 matches said: ‘Today my idea and that of my family is to end here.
‘Especially first because of how I am in the club, how I feel in the club, then because of the familiar, for how good we are in this city, for my children, for not changing my friendships and I don’t want it broken because I had to live it on my personal level.