Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has sensationally claimed that "certain powers" at the Catalan giants want to see star player Lionel Messi leave the Camp Nou, just weeks after the 29-year-old was convicted of tax fraud.
In an interview with Spanish radio station, Catalunya Radio, Laporta heavily criticised the individuals running Barcelona, claiming that some at the club want to see the forward kicked out of the club.
The 54-year-old believes Barcelona should have done more to support Messi during his tax fraud trial, with the Argentine having previously explained that he knew nothing of the unpaid taxes, which amounted to around £3.2 million (€4.1 million).
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Barcelona had encouraged fans to back the club's support of Messi on social media, using #WeAreAllLeoMessi, however, that campaign majorly backfired on social media; coming under major criticism.
But despite the club making the effort to support their long-serving Argentine forward via social media, Laporta feels the club have done little behind the scenes to support Messi through a tough and testing period, which has also seen him retire from international football with Argentina.
“There are certain powers [at Barca] who want Messi to no longer be a Barca player." said Laporta.
“What the justice system says is respectable, but what’s clear is that Messi pays his taxes and pays a lot [into the Spanish state]."
Laporta has fired criticism at his successor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and believes the club's reputation has been tarnished.
“For me, Barca are more than a club, who I had the honour of leading." Laporta added.
“[My] model worked because it made the club more recognisable and beloved. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore.
“[Barca’s pact with prosecutors over Neymar], is shameful, sinister and has tarnished the club forever."
As it stands, Messi's future is unquestionably with Barcelona, however, the forward, who netted 26 La Liga goals last campaign, would have plenty of suitors, should the time ever come for the one-club man to leave the Camp Nou.
However, Bartomeu's election as president this time last year has not received the support of Laporta, who clearly is not in agreement with the current governance at the club.
Have Barcelona correctly handled Lionel Messi's tax fraud conviction? Give your opinion in the comment bow below.