sportbible: Lionel Messi has spent 18 long and successful years with his beloved Barcelona, winning everything there is to win in world football.
But it has emerged that his remarkable spell at the Catalan giants could have been cut short in 2017.
The 32-year-old recently admitted that he wanted to quit the club while being embroiled in a tax row with the Spanish government.
The Argentinian was originally given a 21 month prison sentence for tax fraud after Messi and his father, Jorge, were found guilty of defrauding Spain of €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009.
The sentence was eventually reduced to a €252,000 fine and in a recent interview with RAC1, Messi spoke about wanting to leave Spain because of how he was “mistreated”.
“At that time, with the mess of the treasury, I wanted to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain.” he said.
“‘I felt that I was being very mistreated and I didn’t want to stay here. I never had an official offer because because everyone knew my idea to stay here.”
As Messi pointed out, the five time Ballon d’Or winner received no offers elsewhere and ended up staying at the Nou Camp, so it is a case of ‘what could have been’ for the forward.
He spoke further about the tax fraud case during the interview.
“It was very difficult for me and my family because people don’t know much about what’s going on.” he said.
“The truth is that it was hard for everything that happened but it is better that my children were small and did not know.”
Messi confirmed that he now wants to stay with Barcelona until the end of his career.
“Today my idea and that of my family is to end here.” he told RAC1.
“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.”
The forward will undoubtedly go down as the greatest player in the club’s history therefore it’s no surprise that president Josep Maria Bartomeu wants Messi to stay for the rest of his playing days.
In fact, the 56-year-old has said that Messi will “never leave” Barcelona and “might even” play until he’s 45 years old:
“He might even play until he’s 45, who knows?” the president said, via The Guardian.
“We know he’ll play three, four, five years more, we don’t know how many – as many as he wants. We’re preparing: players like [Ousmane] Dembélé, [Clément] Lenglet, Arthur are there to build a team for when Messi stops playing, but I still see it as a long way off.
“I don’t think that day is near. And we tell the players who play and train with him: ‘Make the most of every minute.’
“We are talking to the family but it’s very early to say. He’s a footballer. So we talk football. But he will stay here with us. He’s a club man.”
Source: Published by sportbible