FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has opened up on his controversial tax scandal of 2016, and slammed some people associated with Real Madrid for publicly attacking him.
In July 2016, the Argentina captain was handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud, which earned him great criticism from around the world.
Messi has now opened up about how hurt he was by those in Madrid reporting the story, suggesting that he felt there was a smear campaign against him just because of his ties with the Blaugrana.
"I had a difficult year after all the mess with Hacienda (the tax authority)," he told Sport.
"It was tough. I didn't fall into depression, but the way I was attacked, the things they said about me, my family, my dad, my people... It was tough. I felt very victimised, especially by Madrid.
"I was lucky to have the support of my people from Barcelona, Catalonia and the journalists here, and that made me a bit calmer.
"I think that was the order of events. Attack me, hit me, take advantage of my moment of weakness… It happened like that because I knew it was coming from Madrid."
Messi will be in action for Argentina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup over the course of the next month, with the Albiceleste taking on Iceland in their first game.
Do you think Messi's name was dragged through the mud in Madrid just because he is Barca's main star? Let us know in the comments section below.