Lionel Messi has admitted he wanted to leave Barcelona following a tax row with the Spanish government.
Messi is a one-club man having played for Barcelona his whole career, and he has scored 604 goals in 692 games since making his debut in 2004.
The Argentine has mooted the idea of returning home with Newell's Old Boys in the future, but he told RAC1 he almost quit Barcelona after he and his father Jorge were found guilty of defrauding the tax department in Spain in 2016.
Lionel Messi: There's no secret to my success – just work!
“At that time, with the mess of the treasury, I wanted to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain,” said Messi, whose 21-month prison sentence was changed to a £223,000 fine in July 2017.
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.
Messi - Barcelona-Celtic - Champions League 2016/2017 - LaPresse
Image credit: Eurosport
“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’s future was back in the spotlight over the summer after it emerged the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could leave the Nou Camp at the end of the 2019-20 season should he want to.
He has since expressed his desire to stay, and reiterated that stance when talking to RAC1.
Messi added: “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.”