LIONEL MESSI could quit Barcelona in the fall-out of his conviction for tax fraud, believes La Liga president Javier Tebas. Messi was this week sentenced to 21 months in jail after prosecutors accused to striker of concealing image rights money in tax havens in Belize and Uruguay. He was fined £1.7million – six weeks’ wages – but will not go to prison despite the sentence handed down by a court in Barcelona. Yet his experience with the tax authorities could see Argentine Messi seek an exit from Barca, with Chelsea interested in his signature.
“It’s not so serious,” Tebas said of Messi’s sentence during a European Parliament event on match- fixing in sport. “We’re dealing with an issue of legal structures that have been misused. I don’t think Messi is a criminal, he opted for risky tax structure and the Supreme Court will make changes. “Messi has paid more than €160m (136m) to the state, and that money has been used on hospitals and roads. “Of course I’m afraid (that he may leave). The LFP (Spanish football league) doesn’t believe he’s guilty and we’re delighted to have
him.” Barcelona do not want to sell Messi but the Sun claim his father Jorge has held talks with the Blues over a possible deal. According to the report, Chelsea have expressed their willingness to sign Messi if he ever decides to quit the Nou Camp. He is valued at £100m. It is added that Manchester City are also interested in signing Messi even though new manager Pep Guardiola – who coached the 29-year- old superstar at Barca – ruled out a move earlier this week.

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