Lionel Messi offers to pay $558000 to avoid 21-month jail sentence

Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has offered to pay an additional fine of 500,000 euros (£439,000) to ensure he avoids a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud that a judge is expected to suspend, a Spanish state prosecutor said.

In Spain, prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be suspended by a judge.

He insinuated that Messi's tax case was unfairly dragged out for years but then quickly resolved this week so that the cases of La Liga's two star players would not be under probe at the same time.

The judge in charge of the case will make a decision bearing in mind the prosecutor's recommendations.

Last year, a court in Barcelona found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros (£3.6 million) from 2007-09. The state prosecutor was not immediately available to comment on Friday.

Both have denied wrongdoing.

The maximum fine would be 255,500 euros ($285,164), Reuters calculations showed, on top of a almost 2 million euro fine handed down as part of last year's sentence.

Messi, who has won eight La Liga titles, five King's Cups and four Champions League crowns with Barcelona, finished top scorer in Spain this season with 37 league goals.

They said they were willing to give the 29-year-old a fine of 400 euros ($450) a day for the duration of the sentence - an option that the defence of the Argentina worldwide has also proposed.

Messi lost his appeal against the 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud in May but his father's sentence was reduced to 15 months.

  • Julie Sanders