Soccer

‘Madness’ driving Lionel Messi into arms of Manchester City

Lionel Messi had his private jet stormed by the Spanish tax agency on the tarmac at Barcelona airport – a fiasco the Argentine hero labelled as “madness”.

Messi, 33, returned from international duty on Wednesday.

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But before he even had the chance to head into the terminal, Marca reports up to five officials boarded his customised aeroplane and asked the Barca captain and the entire crew to provide documentation.

As he headed through customs at Barcelona El Prat airport, Messi was ordered to pay a tax, the report adds.

Speaking to reporters upon arrival, he said: “After 15 hours of flying, I come up against people from the tax agency asking questions. It’s madness.”

Messi and his father Jorge were found guilty of tax fraud in 2016 and originally handed suspended 21-month prison sentences. The six-time Ballon d‘Or winner was also fined $3 million.

At the time he admitted he wanted to leave Spain over the mess.

Adding to his frustration, Messi was also quizzed by the media at El Prat around comments from ex-teammate Antoine Griezmann’s former agent.

Eric Olhats said Messi was “deplorable” and went out of his way to unsettle the Frenchman and oversaw a “regime of terror” at the club.

At that point Messi snapped, saying: “I’m tired of always being the problem.”

Spanish authorities are driving Lionel Messi out of Barcelona. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Messi’s growing frustration at his boyhood club could be Barcelona’s loss but Manchester City’s gain.

The Etihad club is ramping up plans to make a move to land him in the January transfer window after Messi almost quit Barca in the summer before making a dramatic U-turn to honour the final year of his contract at the Nou Camp.

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Barcelona’s debts of $800 million mean they are in desperate need of cutting costs drastically.

So the chance to bring in any fee, possibly less than $90 million, rather than letting Messi go for free at the end of the season may be too good to turn down.

It comes as Messi’s former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola signed a new two-year deal to stay at Manchester City until 2023.

The Spanish boss had just seven months left on his existing $35m-a-year deal with speculation mounting he could leave the Etihad.

Guardiola, 49, was brought to Manchester City to try and win the club’s first ever Champions League and he’s committed to finishing what he started.

He’s guided the Etihad side to back-to-back Premier League titles with 100 and 98 points in those seasons.

But Man City have never won the Champions League in their history and have been knocked out in the quarter-finals the last three seasons.

– The Sun

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