Lionel Messi: 'I Had It in My Mind to Leave' Barcelona in 2013 and 2014

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 06: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on October 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Barcelona icon Lionel Messi has said he considered leaving the club in 2013 and 2014 due to issues away from the field.

Messi faced trial for alleged tax evasion in 2014, when the footballer and his father Jorge were accused of trying to defraud the Spanish authorities out of £3.1 million. The pair were eventually found guilty, and the Barcelona star was hit with a 21-month suspended prison term, although that was later downgraded to a fine of £223,000.

Speaking to RAC1 (h/t AS), the Blaugrana legend said the investigation made him consider a change of scenery:

"There have been times when I have ended up tired due to a lot of circumstances. There were several times, especially in 2013 and 2014, when I had the problem with the Treasury.

"The best thing of all was that my children were small and didn’t know anything, but we had a bad time. At that time I had it in my mind to leave, not because I wanted to leave Barca, but because of what was going on."

Messi has rarely been linked with a move away from Barcelona, having emerged from the club's academy to become an all-time great at the Camp Nou.

The only possible transfer he has discussed is potentially moving back to Newell's Old Boys in Argentina, having joined the club in his homeland when he was just six years old.

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Classic Football Shirts recently shared a snap of Messi in the club colours from his childhood:

It's difficult to imagine the 32-year-old donning the jersey of any other team in Europe, so associated is he with Barcelona.

Since making his debut for the senior side in 2004, Messi has enjoyed a remarkable amount of success. He's won La Liga 10 times and the UEFA Champions League on four occasions with the Blaugrana.

He continues to set incredible individual standards, too. Messi is not only one of the most prolific goalscorers in European football, but one of the most naturally creative players the sport has ever seen.

Messi was recognised by FIFA as the finest footballer on the planet in September when he won the governing body's Men's Best Player Award.

BT Sport Football looked back at some of the best moments from his incredible 2018-19 campaign:

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed in September that there's a clause in Messi's contract that would allow him to leave the club for free at the end of the season. However, there doesn't appear to be any danger of the forward moving on for the time being given how settled he is in Catalonia.

While some neutrals would have loved to have seen Messi challenge himself in one of Europe's other top leagues, the forward continues to do enough to prove himself as one of the best players in the world on a weekly basis.