Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has admitted that he considered leaving Barcelona back in 2013 when he was part of a tax fraud investigation.
The Argentina international has been a huge part of the success the Catalans giants have had over the last six years, but he was nearly not there to contribute to it, having thought about exiting the club during what were dark times for him.
An investigation into the Barcelona star started in 2013, and he was found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government, along with his father, to the tune of €4.2 million between the period of 2007 to 2009, in relation to income that he earned from image rights.
His arrest landed him a 21 month prison sentence and a €2m fine, although he did not actually end up serving time in jail for the charge, which began a series of high profile cases that included Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Messi’s teammate Javier Mascherano.
The Argentine icon has gone on to become the all-time leading scorer for Barcelona, having been at the club since he was 13, but it could have been so much different, as he confessed in a radio interview in Spain recently.
“Sincerely, at that time, I thought about leaving,” Sky Sports quote him as saying.
“Not because of Barcelona but because I wanted to leave Spain, I felt very badly treated and I didn’t want to stay here any longer.
“I had my doors open to many clubs but I never got an official offer because everyone knew I really wanted to stay. This situation went way beyond my feelings for Barca.”
Thankfully for Barcelona, Messi did not leave the Catalans giants and he remains a part of the furniture there, as they look for further dominance domestically and across Europe for the foreseeable future.