Nothing like a good conspiracy theory to get Barcelona fans riled up. This one involved Barca superstar Lionel Messi who is currently standing trial with his father in Spain over tax evasion and fraud.
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has expressed his concern that Messi’s trial is part of a master plan to get the superstar out of the Camp Nou.
“It seems to me to be part of a political, judicial, sporting and media strategy, with the state counsel as the executioner, to get Messi to leave Barcelona,” he tweeted.
“I am sad and dismayed by the anger directed towards Messi and his family.”
Laporta, who lost out to current Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu in last summer’s elections, could not miss hitting out at the club for their handling of the situation:
“I feel the club is lacking a more wholehearted and stronger position in its defence of our player, Lionel Messi, the best footballer in the world,” the former Barcelona president added.
Couple of things are going on with this story. I don’t think that the fact that Lionel Messi is facing trial is part of master plan that was cooked up in a boardroom in the Santiago Bernabéu. However, I do think that the case could have an impact on how Messi and Neymar (who is also being pursued over tax fraud) view playing in Spain.
While Fiscalia, the Spanish revenue service are ready to drop the case, the State Legal Service has not. And Mario Maza, the man handling the case for the State has said Messi’s claims that he had no clue about the documents he signed and trusted his father to make decisions for him
“It could be that they are inexperienced with tax matters and the law, and are not able to set up their own companies,” Maza said.
“But they are able to understand what paying your taxes means.
“Even 10-year-old children understand that. And Messi would have to be able to understand that without any problem. In no way am I comparing this kid to a mafioso, but this is the same as a capo of a criminal network.”
It is conceivable that Messi and/or Neymar decide that is not worth living and playing in Spain if they and their family are having to go through these public trials. Which is why the news that Manchester United have approached Messi twice in the last month starts to look a little more likely through the prism of what Messi is going through off the pitch in Spain at the moment.