The lawyers of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have announced that they will appeal the 21-month prison sentences slammed on their clients for tax fraud on Wednesday.
A court in Barcelona found Messi, 29, guilty of defrauding Spain’s taxman of €4.1 million on monies made from his image rights between 2007 and 2009.
Messi was also fined six weeks’ wages (€1.7m) following the court’s ruling, with his father asked to pay €1.5m.
The Argentine is not expected to serve time in jail as sentences under two years for individuals with no prior convictions can be suspended under Spanish law.
However, Messi’s lawyers say they consider the sentence to be “symbolic”, insisting that the player and his father are innocent of the charges and that they will continue to fight the decision, Goal.com writes.
The lawyers argue that the case made for convicting Messi, which was the legality of companies created in Belize and Uruguay, should actually lead to his acquittal.
The appeal will be filed with the Spanish Supreme Court, whose ruling will be delivered in less than a year.
Lionel Messi’s father, Jorge, has met with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over a possible switch for the Argentine superstar.
This comes after speculations that Messi, 29, is considering a move away from Spanish giants Barcelona.
The meeting between Messi Sr. and Abramovich was held on the Russian billionaire’s yacht, the Eclipse, as Chelsea attempt to manoeuvre themselves into pole position to land the signature of the five-time ballon d’Or winner.
Goal reports that the Blues are ready to offer Barcelona a world record £110 million for their talisman and will better the forward’s current deal with the Spanish champions, which currently stands at £600,000 a week.
Chelsea’s Premier League rivals Manchester City have also registered their interest and have a contract prepared which would see Messi earn a staggering £800,000 a week at the Etihad.