Lionel Messi is due to appear in court soon along with his father over separate tax evasion charges Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Lionel Messi is planning to sue a Spanish newspaper for defamation after the footballer was linked to tax evasion projects in the Panama Papers leak.
The captain of the Argentina national team was accused by El Confidencial of “setting up a tax fraud network” by using Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprises to avoid paying tax on image rights deals.
Mr Messi is due in court along with his father Jorge Messi on 31 May over separate tax evasion charges.
El Confidential produced documents appearing to show both Lionel and Jorge Messi’s signatures acquiring the shell company Mega Star Enterprises via an Uruguayan company.
The Barcelona forward and his father bought the company a day after being indicted by Spanish fiscal authorities investigating an alleged €4.1 million in unpaid taxes.
The offshore company is not mentioned in the Spanish government’s 2014 and 2015 indictments against the pair.
Mr Messi’s father took over sole ownership of the company in December 2015.
They are expected to issue a statement over the veracity of the claims.
The Panama Papers represent the biggest data leak so far, with more than 11.5 million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca being passed to the German newspaperSeddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with 107 media organisations around the world.
They reveal links between 72 current or former heads of state and 140 politicians.