Lionel Messi has said that in 2013 he wanted to leave Barcelona but now plans to end his career at the Nou Camp.
The 32-year-old forward told Barcelona-based radio station RAC1 he felt “very badly treated” by Spain at that time as he and his father were investigated for filing fraudulent tax returns.
“Sincerely, at that time, I thought about leaving,” he said.
“Not because of Barcelona but because I wanted to leave Spain, I didn’t want to stay here any longer.”
He added: “I had my doors open to many clubs but I never got an official offer because everyone knew I really wanted to stay. This situation went way beyond my feelings for Barca.”
Messi enrolled in Barcelona’s La Masia academy at 13 and made his first team debut at 16.
He’s gone on to become the club’s record goalscorer with 604 goals and is second on their all-time appearance list behind former team-mate Xavi.
While the Argentina striker admits there isn’t “anything new” to add about a contract extension, his current deal ends in 2021, he sees his future at the Spanish champions.
“My idea is to stay for many years. I’ve always thought this way and nothing has changed. It’s clear that my idea is to finish my career at Barca.
“Especially because of what I feel for the club and for my family. We are very happy in Barcelona,” Messi said.
In a wide-ranging interview the club’s all-time record goalscorer also denied stories that he plays a significant role in the club’s transfer deals.
Throughout the summer there were rumours that Messi was encouraging the Barcelona board to re-sign Neymar from PSG, with Messi saying he’d have “loved” to see the Brazilian return.
He said: “The last time I talked to Bartomeu [Barcelona’s president] was in Liverpool, but we’ve not met since. I have no problem with him.
“Sometimes, he asks for feedback from the dressing room on the subject of signings, like with Neymar or Griezmann. But it isn’t true that I decide who we are to sign or which coach is here.
“I think that Neymar regretted leaving FC Barcelona from the first day. He realised that he was wrong.
“I didn’t criticise the board for not signing Neymar. I was not part of the negotiations.”