Talismanic Barcelona captain, Lionel Messi has revealed that he almost left the club and Spain altogether in 2016 over his well-publicised tax issue.
He disclosed this in an interview with Spanish radio station, RAC1.
Messi and his agent and father, Jorge, were found guilty of tax evasion by a Spanish court and sentenced to a 21-month prison that was suspended.
According to prosecutors, the player and his father had taken advantage of tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights, defrauding the Spanish government of €4.1 million in tax revenue between 2007 and 2009.
The player’s 21-month suspended prison terms was however changed to a £223,000 fine in 2017 after he appealed the court judgement. His father’s 15-month suspended prison term was also changed to €180,000 fine.
Even though his ordeal has now faded into distant memory, Messi told the radio station he felt “mistreated” and contemplated quitting the country over the matter.
“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.
“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. It was very difficult for me and my family because people don’t know much about what ’s going on,” the 32-year-old told RAC1.