Updated 09:42 PM EST, Sat, Jan 22, 2022

Lionel Messi Tax Fraud Case: Barcelona Forward to Miss Practice Days Before Argentina's Copa America Opener?

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The tax fraud case of FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi will start its hearing in Barcelona in May until June this year, raising concerns if the forward will miss practice for Argentina's Copa America opening game.

Mirror reported that the hearing is set from May 31 to June 3, requiring Messi to travel to the Spanish city a few days before the start of Copa America in the United States on June 6.

It can be remembered that Messi and his father, Jorge, are facing charges for allegedly defrauding a total of $4.69 million in tax from 2007 to 2009.

According to the Mirror report, a Spanish court has ordered both the accused to face trial for this case. If found guilty, a jail term of up to two years awaits the two.

It was also noted that Messi and his father have already paid $5.4 million to the tax authorities of Barcelona as a corrective payment when they were charged three years ago.

In addition, Daily Nation said that prosecutors for the case have already asked for Messi's charges to be dropped, noting that the fraudulent act was done by his father alone.

However, this was rejected in October last year by the judge handling the case, saying that there were also signs that Messi had a hand in the charge against him.

Messi and his father have reportedly denied the accusations, and pointed their fingers at an ex-financial advisor.

ESPN FC also noted that because of the schedule of the trials, there is even a possibility that Messi will not be able to attend Argentina's opening game.

With these concerns, the Barcelona star's legal counsels are expected to ask for a change in the trial dates so that Messi's participation in the Copa America tournament will not be affected.

Amidst the legal issues surrounding him, Messi has reiterated his plan to end his career in Barcelona and not transfer to other teams prior to retirement.

A separate ESPN FC report noted that Messi has no interest in leaving his current team.

"In football, anything can happen, but my idea and my desire is to stay at Barcelona," Messi said.

He noted that offers from either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain will not encourage him to switch teams.

Messi furthered that he is certain of what he wants to happen with his football career, and that is to stay in Barcelona.

"Once again, anything can happen in football but I'm sure of what I want," he added.

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