Lionel Messi's shocking revelation about Barcelona departure in 2017

  • Lionel Messi wanted to leave Barcelona in 2017 following an investigation by the Spanish Government.
  • Barcelona have relied heavily on Lionel Messi in recent years.
Ashish Thomas
Modified 22 May 2020, 20:20 IST

Lionel Messi during a recent training session
Lionel Messi during a recent training session

Lionel Messi revealed in an interview last year that he was very close to leaving Barcelona in 2017. This was hot on the heels of the investigation conducted by the Spanish Government Treasury into his tax fraud case.

Lionel Messi reveals that this drove him into considering leaving Barcelona for the first time in his career. The move didn't materialize because there were no offers forthcoming from rival clubs.

Lionel Messi's shocking revelation

Lionel Messi admitted his decision to quit Barcelona was because of his ensuing legal battle with the Spanish Government. After the Spanish Treasury conducted the investigation, Lionel Messi was initially given a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud.

The Argentinian star, along with his father, Jorge, was found guilty of defrauding Spain of €4.1 million for two years between 2007-2009. The sentence was later reduced to a €252,000 fine.

He considered leaving because he felt he was the result of a witch-hunt against him. Lionel Messi went on to add that he wanted to leave Spain altogether, not just Barcelona.

"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 because everyone knew my idea to stay here."
Messi returns to training for Barcelona following the coronavirus lockdown
Messi returns to training for Barcelona following the coronavirus lockdown

Lionel Messi felt hurt by the sentiment of the Spanish Government Treasury to hunt him down. He felt that the Treasury was exerting undue emotional duress on his family members.

"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."

The Barcelona No.10 goes on to add that he now feels like he can stay at Barcelona for the rest of his career. He goes on to say how his family is more or less settled in Barcelona.

"Today my idea and that of my family is to end here."
"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."

Barcelona's dependence on Lionel Messi over the years

Messi prepares to take a penalty in a recent game against Real Sociedad.
Messi prepares to take a penalty in a recent game against Real Sociedad.

Barcelona, over the past few seasons, have relied heavily on Lionel Messi. They have needed the diminutive Argentinian to bail them out of trouble time and time again. Lionel Messi has steadily improved his output, season after season.

Lionel Messi has been crucial to Barcelona, not just for his goal-scoring antics but also for playmaking abilities after the departures of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. He has been on the top of La Liga's assist charts as well, regularly teeing up his partner in crime, Luis Suarez.

Barcelona will be looking to keep Lionel Messi fully fit the remainder of the interrupted La Liga season, as they look to compete on all fronts after the restart.

Published 22 May 2020, 20:20 IST
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