With 692 appearances, 604 goals, 34 trophies and five Ballon d'Or awards, the word ‘legendary’ doesn’t even come close to describing Lionel Messi’s tenure at Barcelona.
Yet, six years ago, things could have turned out entirely differently. The diminutive Argentinian genius has now conceded that he wanted to ditch the Blaugrana back in 2013.
During an interview with El Mundo at Barcelona-radio station RAC1, the 32-year-old expressed: “There have been moments in which one ends up tired, exhausted by an accumulation of circumstances or things.
“I have had several times, especially in 2013, 2014... when I started having the problem with the Treasury.”
The Barcelona captain suggested he was “badly treated” by Spain during the time he, and his father, were investigated by authorities for tax fraud.
Messi voiced: “It was difficult for me and my family because people really do not know what was happening, but they hear it and speak.
“At that time, I had in my mind, to leave. Not to want to leave Barça, but to want to leave Spain.”
Regarded as one of, if not, the greatest player of all-time, Messi added: “I have had the open door of many teams, although I have never had an official offer.
“This, however, was a situation that went beyond what I felt for this club, it was because of what I felt on a personal level.”
At 16-years, four months and 23 days old, Messi made his professional debut as a graduate from La Masia.
Now Barcelona’s all-time top goalscorer, the forward expressed that his vision is to remain with the Catalan giants: “Yes, if you want me, obviously glad to stay. I repeat it again - my idea is always to stay here, it has always been this way and now it is still the same way. It has not changed for anything.”
During the same interview, Messi discussed Neymar's rumoured return to the Catalan club after the story dominated this summer's transfer window.
He said: “It was difficult for Ney to return, but yes, for the sport, I would have liked it.
“At the sporting level, Neymar is one of the best in the world and obviously having [Neymar] on our team would have meant to have many more options to achieve the goals.”
Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to the Juventus in 2018, Neymar drew interest from Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid, too.
Although Messi would have loved to see the Brazilian superstar return to the Camp Nou, he said that he feared his former teammate would join Los Blancos instead: “Honestly, especially in this market, I thought that if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid.
“I thought he was really looking forward to leaving, for a change, to leave Paris. I thought [Real Madrid President] Florentino Perez and Madrid would do something to sign it.
“Neymar is sorry to have left - soon after [leaving Barcelona] he saw he was wrong and had made a bad decision.”