Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has revealed that he was close to leaving Barcelona in 2016 after being entangled in a tax scandal.
The 32-year-old was handed a 21-month prison sentence in July 2017, but it was then converted to a fine €252,000 by the Spanish court.
Reports claim the six-time Ballon d'Or winner defrauded the Spanish government €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009.
His father, Jorge was also given a 15-month jail sentence and it was also replaced with a fine of €180,000 over the matter.
Messi has invested all his career to helping the Catalan club win ten La Liga titles since he broke into the senior team in 2004-05 season.
He has also won four Champions League trophies among several other domestic and continental glory for the club.
However, many believed that it was impossible for the Argentine to quit the Spanish club but the forward admitted he considered leaving four years back.
"At that time, with the mess of the treasury, I wanted to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but wanting to leave Spain," Messi told Catalan language radio station RAC1.
"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. "It was very difficult for me and my family because people don't know much about what's going on."
Though a few clubs made attempts to offer Messi a deal, none was serious to go through with it considering his transfer fee, salary, and endorsements.