By 90Min
July 31, 2017

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was apparently keen on joining Manchester City last summer because he was worried about serving time in prison after being found guilty of tax fraud.

A claim emerging from Catalan broadcaster TV3 has suggested that Messi informed City coach Pep Guardiola last July that he wanted to join him in Manchester.

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It is said that on 6th July, the same day Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison, suspended, his father Jorge got in touch with City chief executive Ferran Soriano to inform him that the player wanted to leave Camp Nou.

When Guardiola arrived for work at his new job a few days later he apparently also received a call that Messi wanted to see him in person.

Image by Matt Barnes

That prompted Pep to make the trip to Messi's home in Castelldefels to the north of Barcelona, where it is alleged that an upset Messi told the coach he felt 'trapped'.

It was then that Messi Sr. is said to have contacted Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu to inform him of the situation. But Bartomeu made it clear that the club wouldn't let the five-time Ballon d'Or winner go and himself also went to personally see Messi at home.

Around that time it had been reported that Messi had told Barça he wouldn't negotiate a new contract, which had also followed further international disappointment after losing a second Copa America final in as many years.

The conversation with Bartomeu seemed to help change his mind about effectively running away from his problems, though. The president always maintained a confidence that Messi would sign a new deal and he eventually put pen to paper earlier this month.

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