Barcelona President Sandro Rosell says he believes Lionel Messi is innocent of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities.
Messi and his father Jorge Horacio have had a complaint filed against them relating to income tax for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, but Rosell told gathered media that he is convinced the Barca player is blameless.
“We are very calm and have no doubt of Leo’s complete innocence in this whole case. I have called Argentina to tell him that we are with him and have full confidence in his innocence.”
In a Press conference that lasted almost an hour, Rosell also spoke of the ‘sporting, economic, social and institutional stability’ at Barcelona and, without mentioning any names, declared their dominance of La Liga ‘has lasted five years, although these cycles are only usually three’.
In addition, the continuation of goalkeeper Victor Valdes at the club was on the agenda, and Rosell revealed he is set to carry on at the Camp Nou.
“His agent [Gines Carvajal] has informed [director of football] Andoni Zubizarreta that he intends to see out his contract. Valdes will be with us another year, which is something to celebrate,” he explained.
On the controversial exit of Eric Abidal, who felt he had been pushed out by La Blaugrana after overcoming a liver transplant, Rosell was adamant.
“I think the club has been very good to him and has been able to distinguish the two sides. When he was sick we renewed his contract and once recovered we treated him as a footballer. We performed wonderfully well on both sides.”
Asked about the possible departure of midfielder Thiago Alcantara and the rumoured arrival of central defender Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain, the Barca chief offered his reflections.
“Thiago Alcantara’s release clause is €18m and that goes up to €90m if he takes part in more than 60 per cent of games. It’s a condition that his representative, Pere Guardiola, put down before we started negotiations.
“We thought he would play more so we said his clause would be €90m, but we hope he follows in the steps of Xavi [Hernandez], [Andres] Iniesta and [Sergio] Busquets.
“In Thiago Silva’s case his signing would be very difficult because of his salary,” said Rosell, although he acknowledged that the owners of the player are the same as Barca’s shirt sponsor – Qatar Sports Investment.