Lionel Messi was ready to leave Barcelona and Spain last summer, only for teammate Luis Suarez to come to the rescue.
That’s according to a report from Barcelona-based publication Mundo Deportivo, which sensationally claims that following a tax fraud sentence last July from the Spanish government against Messi and his father Jorge, Messi asked club representatives he wanted to leave for a team with plenty of ties to the Blaugrana, Manchester City.
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Barcelona were not prepared to sell Messi according to the report, and they could only let him out of his contract if Manchester City paid the full $279 million release clause, which was more than $100 million more than Manchester City were willing to pay.
Here’s where Suarez enters the story.
After Messi suffered defeat in an international tournament final for the third consecutive year with the Argentine National Team as well as dealing with the Argentine FA’s off the field antics and corruption, a frustrated Messi announced his international retirement.
Ten days later, the tax fraud decision came, a 21-month prison sentence, though it would likely be served on probation due to Spanish laws. Messi was reportedly ready to ditch Spain for England before the former Liverpool star Suarez came to his aid.
Suarez, who has dealt with plenty of on-the-field incidents that have played out in the media as well, convinced Messi over two dinners to stay, getting him back in training and playing with the ball at his feet.
The rest is history.
In May, Spain’s Supreme Court upheld the tax fraud sentence, although it doesn’t seem that Messi is likely to leave the club this summer.
Had Messi left, it could have changed last year’s Premier League on its head, giving Manchester City yet another attacking weapon and bringing arguably the world’s best player to Great Britain’s shores.