Lionel Messi Barcelona Transfer: Man City, Chelsea Prepare Bids, Argentinian Disillusioned By Tax Jail Threat

Gregory Wakeman

Could Lionel Messi leave Barcelona? It has long been assumed that the diminutive Argentinian would play with the Catalan giants until the end of his career, but rumors have started to swirl that suggest he isn't entirely happy in Spain.

The Guardian has reported that Lionel Messi is disillusioned in Spain after he was singled out and made to stand trial because of his undeclared income. Lionel Messi was originally accused last year of hiding $5 million that he'd earned by using companies in Uruguay and Belize. Spanish law dictates that if you have hidden more than $145,000 you could be imprisoned.

However, if an offender agrees to pay this sum, then a trial is usually waived. Messi agreed to pay $6.2 million, and has already given that substantial sum of money to officials. This hasn't stopped authorities from proceeding with the case though, and now Messi is set to stand trial and could even be incarcerated for the offense.

According to El Confidencial [via The Guardian], Messi believes that this is just because he plays for Barcelona and represents Catalonia. He fully believes that he is the victim of double standards. This has now resulted in him contemplating a move away from Spain because he is furious with how he has been treated.

"There are other elite sportspeople who have tax problems and they've all been settled administratively, as was the case with Real Madrid players Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas and tennis star Rafa Nadal. Messi is the only one who faces legal proceedings that could end with him going to jail. He's fed up with Spain and that's why he wants to leave."

Earlier this week, Messi made a comment [via The Mirror] that suggested even though he wants to end his career at Barcelona, "sometimes things don't work out as you planned."

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi's Barcelona teammate, Xavi Hernandez, inadvertently exacerbated rumors by also declaring, "Messi would be an even better player in the English Premier League because it's not so defensive."

The Daily Express also reported that both Chelsea and Manchester City have asked exactly how much it would cost to prize Lionel Messi away from Barcelona. The Premier League clubs have been told it would cost just over $300 million to sign the forward, while they would also have to pay him $235 million over a five-year-contract. This means that Lionel Messi earns around $550,000 a week at Barcelona. The Express also went on to report that Barcelona are now "sweating" over Messi's wages, and they are considering selling him in order to raise funds for other players.

[Image via BP]