Lionel Messi on why he nearly left Barcelona, how he misses the Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry and more

Lionel Messi said he misses Cristiano Ronaldo because of what he meant to the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid rivalry and El Clasico, touched on the most difficult time of his career that made him want to leave Barcelona, picked his favorite goal and plenty more in a radio interview this week.

Messi spoke to Catalan radio RAC1 and didn't hold back when talking about many personal things in his life, including the tax issues he faced in Spain which saw him sentenced to prison. 

Here's some of what he touched on. 

What was the worst moment of his career?

Messi said his worst moment was what he went through with the treasury. In 2016, he was sentenced to 21 months in prison after a Barcelona court found him and his father, Jorge Messi, guilty on three counts of tax fraud. The fraud amounted to over $4 million, but Messi never went to prison as under Spanish law sentences of less than two years can be served under probation, especially when there are no priors. 

"There have been times when I have ended up tired due to a lot of circumstances. There were several times, especially in 2013 and 2014, when I had the problem with the treasury," Messi said. 

"The best thing of all was that my children were small and didn't know anything, but we had a bad time. At that time I had it in my mind to leave, not because I wanted to leave Barca, but because of what was going on."  

Messi, as you already know, ended up staying and has since appeared to have moved past those financial issues, continuing his career with the only club he's represented professionally.  

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

"The situation went beyond what I felt about this club."

What was Messi's favorite goal?

Messi said his best goal wasn't his most impressive visually, but it was one of the rarest. He picked the 2009 Champions League final win over Manchester United. Barca won 2-0 with Samuel Eto'o scoring the first, but it was Messi who sealed it in the 70th minute with a rare header goal. He leaped and headed a beautiful ball to the back post for what is his most impressive header goal of his career. He doesn't score a lot of headers, and most of them are quick and from close range, but this one was different and even more impressive for having taken place in a UCL final. Take a look:

What about the toughest team he's faced?

Messi said the toughest team he faced was the Spain national team. With many of the team's players being teammates of his at Barcelona, there is instant respect for a team that won the World Cup in 2010, sandwiched between Euro titles. Part of this may be due to what happened in March of 2018, when Spain crushed Argentina 6-1 in an international friendly. Messi also did play against Spain after the 2010 World Cup, 4-1, with Messi scoring.

He regularly plays with or against the majority of the Spanish national team members, with a large portion playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. 

And missing Ronaldo?

Looking at best players, Messi admitted that he misses Cristiano Ronaldo and he would have liked him to remain in Spain with Real Madrid. The two have been the world's best players over the last 10-15 years, and they had nearly a 10-year rivalry in Spain when Ronaldo was dominating at Real. Now at Juventus, they haven't faced each other yet since Ronaldo's move, but Messi liked how they each pushed each other. 

"It was a plus for the rivalry," Messi said of having Ronaldo in Spain. 

Mess has 672 goals in 828 games for his career, while Ronaldo has 698 goals in 972 games, and both are widely considered among the best handful of players to ever play. 

CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Full Bio

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