Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has said that he wanted to leave Spain back when he and his father were charged with tax fraud.
The Argentine international came under suspicion for tax fraud back in 2013 and was alleged to have used offshore companies in Uruguay and Belize to evade around €4.1 million. Both Messi and his father were found guilty of tax fraud in 2016 and were handed prison sentences of 21 months and had to pay €1.7 million and €1.3 million respectively as claimed by the Guardian.
The following year, the Argentine international’s prison sentence was reduced to a fine of €252000 while his father was fined €180000 according to BBC.
The 32-year-old said that the tax allegations made him want to leave Barcelona. Messi told RAC1: “I felt that I was being mistreated and did not want to be here anymore. I had the door opened by many clubs but I never had an official offer because everyone knew of my previous desire to continue in Barcelona. The feeling I had went beyond what I felt for this club.
“There was a time when I ended up tired 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. It was difficult for me and my family, many people did not know what I was going through and I heard a sector of the press helped to make this happen.”
Luckily for Barcelona, their talisman stayed and has helped them lift silverware. Messi will not feature during the international break in which Argentina will face Germany and Ecuador.
The 32-year-old should feature in Barca’s next match against Eibar on the 19th.