Lionel Messi says he wanted to leave FC Barcelona after he felt 'mistreated' by authorities
- Lionel Messi says he wanted to leave FC Barcelona in 2013-2014 after being "mistreated" during a tax fraud investigation by Spanish officials.
- Messi and his father were found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government in 2016, and were both handed 21-month suspended prison sentences.
- "At that time, with the government mess, I wanted to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain," he told Catalan radio RAC 1. "I felt that I was being very mistreated and I didn't want to stay here."
- Messi's current contract with Barcelona expires in June 2021, but the Argentine says he intends to finish his career at the Camp Nou.
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Lionel Messi says he wanted to leave FC Barcelona in the 2013-2014 season after feeling "mistreated" during a tax fraud investigation by Spanish officials.
In July 2016, the Argentine and his father were both found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government of €4.1 million ($4.5 million) between 2007 and 2009.Both were handed suspended 21-month prison sentences, and Messi was later ordered to pay a fine of €1.7 million ($1.9 million), according to The Independent.
Speaking to Catalan radio station RAC 1 on Wednesday, Messi said the treatment he received ultimately made him want to leave Barcelona.
"It was difficult for me and for my family," the 32-year-old said. "At that time, with the government mess, 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."Read more: Why Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal of football
Messi's current contract with the Spanish giants expires in June 2021, and he has yet to be offered a new deal, says ESPN.
But while he concedes he is yet to speak to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu about a new contract, Messi insists it is his desire to see out his career with the club.
"If they want me, I would obviously be delighted to remain at Barca," he said. "I reiterate that my aim has always been to stay here.
"Nothing has changed; it is as it has always been. Each time it becomes clearer that my aim and that of my family is to finish [my career] here. First because of how I am at the club, how I feel at the club, and secondly, for my family.
"I have not spoken to [Bartomeu] since our Champions League elimination against Liverpool. But I have no problem with the president. I have never had any problems trying to sort out things with the club. On the contrary, it has been easy. Probably once it's done [the renewal], there will be no problems and it will be done in no time."