I didn’t want to be in Spain anymore

Lionel Messi has admitted that he did come close to leaving Barcelona due to unhappiness in Spain, although it had nothing to do with the club.

The No.10’s contract ran close to ending before signing his latest renewal, and he was almost available to leave on a free.

“Honestly, at that time I had it in my mind to leave,” Messi told RAC1.

“Not because of Barcelona, but because I wanted to leave Spain. I felt mistreated and didn’t want to stay here anymore.”

I had a lot of open doors, but no official offer because everyone knew I wanted to stay.”

The situation went beyond what I felt about this club.

“Now, though, that’s been put behind him and he’s only thinking about the Catalans.”

My idea is to stay here,” he added, “that’s always been the case and it hasn’t changed.

“I’m clearer that I want to retire here. For what I feel for the club but also for my family.

“For not changing [my] children’s friendships, I don’t want to break those.

“I’ve had my turn to live. We think we can stay here for our lives.”

Messi had always been thought to want to finish off his playing career in Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys.

“I always dreamt of playing there,” he admitted.

“Argentinian football is very different from anywhere else.

“But you have to think about the family more than what you want.”

Antoine Griezmann is struggling to find his feet at Barcelona, but the captain is backing him to do well before too long has passed.

“It’s not easy to play at Barcelona,” he said in defence of his teammate.

“It’s difficult for anyone who hasn’t grown up with the Barcelona philosophy and doesn’t know the method.

“He’s used to playing in a different way, but we have no doubts that he’ll adapt because he’s intelligent.”

It’s clear that Messi wanted Neymar to return this past summer, which led to the belief that he wanted the Brazilian instead of the Frenchman.

“I wanted Neymar as well for the same reason,” he explained.

“He’s one of the best in the world. Having him gives us more of a chance to win everything.

“I understand that you looked at other things, like how he left, which is understandable.

“But on a sports level, I’d have liked to have him.”

Messi and Neymar still maintain a good relationship and the Argentinian believes the Paris Saint-Germain forward regretted leaving Barcelona not long afterwards.

“I think so,” he responded when asked if Neymar wished he hadn’t left.

“Shortly after leaving he saw that he was wrong and that he made a bad decision.

“Knowing him, I think so.”

Real Madrid were also in the chase for the Brazilian, and Messi isn’t ruling out him moving to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu next season.

“I thought that if he didn’t come he’d go to Madrid because he really wanted to leave,” he said.

“He wanted to change and I thought Florentino [Perez] would do something to take him.

“I’m not ruling it out for next year, for Madrid or Barcelona.”

Recently named as FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player, the forward is expected to win the Ballon d’Or as well, but he’s not sure if he will win it or not.

“I’ve no idea,” Messi admitted, “if not, I won’t be disappointed.

“It would be nice for my children, but my priority isn’t individual awards.

“What would disappoint me would be to not win the Champions League.”

Marca