Why Lionel Messi nearly left Barcelona in 2014

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The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was alleged to have used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights, and as such defrauded Spain of €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009.

Messi was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 21 months in prison and a €2m fine before his prison time was amended to a €252,000 (£223,000/$288,000) fine in July 2017.

His father, Jorge, was similarly sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment and a fine of €1.5m, though his prison sentence was reduced on appeal.

Messi admitted that, when the charges were originally made, he wanted to leave Spain and spoke to a number of clubs regarding a move away from Camp Nou, though he did not receive any concrete offers




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