Leo Messi has revealed that he almost moved away from Barcelona during the height of his tax case five years ago.
The five-time World Player of the Year and his father Jorge were on trial for concealing over €4 million in earnings from image rights from the Spanish government.
They were both found guilty but escaped jail time and instead paid €3.5 million in penalties and the Argentine forward admits he wanted to move away from Spain at the time.
“I had it in my mind to leave at that time, not to leave Barcelona but to leave Spain,” Messi told Catalan radio station 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.
The 32-year-old has a clause in his contract which could see depart the Camp Nou next summer but says he wants to continue with the La Liga champions.
"Obviously I will stay if you love me. I am delighted and my idea is to stay here — nothing has changed that at all. It is increasingly clear that I will end my career here. It is my idea and that of my family, first for how I am and what I feel for the club and the city.
“I would not like to change the friendships of the children or their social circle, I would not like this to break. I had to live with it and I do not want it to happen to them.”