Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s best soccer player, may have to work on his off-the-field defense – at home – after two Argentine publications published photos showing the married soccer superstar gallivanting with an alleged stripper.
The Barcelona striker was allegedly pictured on the cover of Argentina’s Pronto magazine with a blonde dancer in a Las Vegas nightclub. In the photo, his hands were wrapped around her waist and his face was pressed against her chest.
The headline on Pronto read: “The Photo That Puts Lionel Messi’s Marriage At Risk.”
The magazine says the photos were taken during Messi’s visit to Sin City in early July as a guest at a party hosted by Brazilian legend Ronaldo at the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort.
Pronto says the photos are not doctored, and were taken off a cell-phone.
The Argentine gossip publication said Messi’s relationship with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, 22, is now in ‘crisis,’ according to Pronto sources.
“There is nothing to suggest anything more happened (between Messi and the dancer) but still Antonella is furious,” the source tells Pronto. “She can’t believe he has been so stupid and feels very let down by Leo. Whether she’ll give him the red card or not remains to be seen but it’s fair to say the sofa at their home may be getting a lot of use at the moment.”
The photo is the latest scandal for Messi, one of the best soccer players of his generation.
Messi paid $13 million in back taxes to the Spanish government last month and is looking to settle an alleged $5 million debt that led to tax fraud accusations. The payments covered his image rights for 2010 and 2011, Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia reported. The Spanish paper suggested the player is looking to reach an agreement on millions more he allegedly owes the government.
The payment could help Messi and his father, Jorge, avoid a court appearance Sept. 17 in Gava. Father and son, along with their financial advisers, have denied accusations that they illegally funnelled money to offshore accounts to avert paying taxes.