According to Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, Lionel Messi has never been closer to leaving Barcelona. Embroiled in a legal battle with the tax department in Spain, Messi is reportedly considering moving to greener pastures in a bid to avoid further controversies.

As reported by Sky Sports, Guillem Balague claims that Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona in the near future in a bid to avoid the controversial climate at Barcelona.

Lionel Messi faces a 22-month spell in jail

Accused of committing tax fraud, Sky Sports reported that Lionel Messi could face imprisonment as Spanish prosecutors allege that Messi defrauded the state of A?3.5m in taxes between 2007 and 2009.

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According to Balague, the current political atmosphere in Barcelona has propelled Messi to consider other options.

a It is the closest he’s ever been to leaving Barcelona. It doesn’t mean he will but it is the closest he has ever been to leaving the club.”

Messi is angry about the Spanish taxation, claims Barcelona President

Barcelona have found themselves mired in a series of controversies with President Josep Maria Bartomeu himself claiming that there have been a a lot of coincidencesa as the Catalan club continues to make headlines.

Messi not going anywhere, claims Bartomeu

Messi not going anywhere, claims Bartomeu

However, as reported by The Daily Star, the President claimed that though the Argentine superstar is angry a about the Spanish taxationa , he cannot imagine playing anywhere else apart from Barcelona.

“Leo and his father said they don’t imagine playing at another club. The relationship with the family is very good.

a Messi is very angry about the Spanish taxation. It is not normal, the information published on Leo Messi.a

Guardiola and Messi to reunite in England?

Whether or not Messi is reconsidering his future at Barcelona remains debatable, but the fact remains that the Argentine international feels prosecuted by the authorities in Spain. Along with the controversy surrounding Neymara s signing from Sao Paulo, Barcelona find themselves in a peculiar position as the voice for Catalan independence grows louder. It was earlier speculated that should Catalonia gain independence, clubs like Barcelona and Espanyol could be forced to leave La Liga. In fact, as reported by AS, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has extended an invitation to the Catalan club to join the French league should they become an independent region.

Guardiola and Messi to reunite in England?

Guardiola and Messi to reunite in England?

While no concrete reports have linked Lionel Messi with a move away from Barcelona, Premier League clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are reportedly sounding out the Argentine regarding a possible future move. With Pep Guardiola also linked with a move to England next summer, it will be interesting to see if the former Barcelona manager can convince Lionel Messi to join the Premier League.