Here’s a bombshell: Lionel Messi reportedly wanted to leave Barcelona to head to Manchester City last summer, after the Spanish authorities sentenced him and his father for tax fraud. According to the report, Barca were not prepared to sell him, and told City they would have to pay the entire $279 million release clause, which was more than City was willing to pay. Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez reportedly was the one to convince Messi to stay.
German champions Bayern Munich have warned interested clubs that star Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is not for sale and they will go to FIFA if clubs hold talks with him. There are reports that Lewandowski is unhappy in Munich, citing a “lack of support“ for him in the race with Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the Bundesliga scoring title. Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly interested in the scoring machine, but Bayern today released a statement saying they “waste no thought on a Lewandowski move.“
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, said the striker has offers from Italy and from the United States after being released by Manchester United. While Ibrahimovic is still recovering from a knee injury, he has been linked to the LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club, and AC Milan, while ruling out a move to Napoli.
Former Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Patrick Kluivert is pessimistic that Barcelona will sign PSG’s star midfielder Marco Verratti this summer, saying that PSG would be unwilling to sell. The French club sees Verratti as too important to their project to sell, while Barcelona see him as a long-term replacement for Xavi. He also said that Verratti, although he reportedly wants to go to Barcelona, will cost more than €100m.
Another day, another star player who played in Spain being convicted of tax fraud. This time, it’s Angel Di Maria, formerly of Real Madrid and currently of PSG. According to media reports, Di Maria admitted to tax fraud and will pay €2 million in back-taxes and fines, as well as accept a one-year prison sentence. It is notable, however, that just like Lionel Messi, Di Maria will not actually be going to jail, as first-time offenders in Spain have their sentences suspended if it is less than two years. You can now add Di Maria to the list that includes Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, and Javier Mascherano of Spanish stars getting chased down by the tax man.
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