Lionel Messi was so disillusioned after his tax fraud charges last year, that he asked Barcelona for a transfer to Manchester City according to sources in Spain.
After missing the decisive penalty against Chile in the Copa America final, the Argentinian decided to quit the national team and then ten days later found himself receiving a 21-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of avoiding paying 14.7million euros in tax.
According to the Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo during this time the Ballon d’Or told Barca chiefs he wanted to leave for Pep Guardiola’s Premier League side. Messi and Guardiola had previously won three La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues together, along with numerous other trophies, between 2008 and 2012.
But the chiefs at Nou Camp refused to let their superstar leave and insisted the £250m release clause would have to be triggered. This angered Messi at the time who was prepared to publicly declare his intentions to move away from the Catalan club, similar to the position Cristiano Ronaldo currently finds himself in.
This forced Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Jordi Mestre flew to Miami to speak with Messi’s father Jorge Messi and on their return to Spain had a 3 hour meeting with the man himself, but to no avail.
Eventually it was former Liverpool player and close friend Luis Suarez who talked the 29-year-old round to extend his stay at Camp Nou, the Argentine international going on to have a fine campaign, finishing La Liga top scorer after netting a remarkable 37 goals.
Manchester City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano is convinced Messi will never be a City player, after recently speaking to Chinese news agency Xinhua.
“I know Messi very well. He and his family are my good friends,” he said
“At least next year, maybe he can finish that career. After that he can go to China or US, but now I think he will stay in Barcelona.”