Could things be about to get Messi for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford?

SoccerBy Sunday World
Lionel Messi and Mourinho share a joke before a Champions League group match between Barcelona and Inter Milan
Lionel Messi and Mourinho share a joke before a Champions League group match between Barcelona and Inter Milan

Manchester United are being linked with an incredible swoop for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, the world's best footballer.

Following news yesterday that United are close to tieing up a deal for one world star in the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, more rumours on the club's potential transfer dealings have surfaced.

The Old Trafford oufit are exploring the possibility of bringing the Argentina forward to Manchester, according to the Daily Mail.

The paper alleges that United have made two attempts to gauge the level of Messi's availability in the past three weeks.

It is thought that any transfer would happen following the finish of the 2016-17 season, at the earliest.

United plan to be able to offer the greatest footballer on the planet Champions League football before making a concrete offer.

Any transfer would create a new world record, with Messi certain to command a fee in excess of the near £86million Real Madrid shelled out for Gareth Bale.

Sources close to Messi apparently would not rule out the potential for the Argentine to leave Barcelona.

The club's star man is said to be unhappy with the media attention surrounding the tax fraud trial that he was embroiled in this week.

The tax fraud trial concluded yesterday with a public prosecutor calling for the footballer's acquittal and the government prosecutor renewing his demand for a conviction.

The four-day trial ended in Barcelona with both prosecutors contending that Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, was the main person responsible for defrauding Spain's tax authority of €4.1million (£3.1million) from 2007-09.

However, the legal representative for the tax office said the Barcelona star knew enough to also be held accountable.

He called for a prison sentence of 22 months each for both Messi and his father, while the public prosecutor requested a sentence of 18 months for the father only.

Messi arriving at court in Barcelona on Thursday

They are not likely to face any jail time even if found guilty but could be fined and made to forfeit possible future tax benefits.

Messi and his father appeared in court on Thursday and denied any wrongdoing. Both said the player was unaware of the tax issues that led to the fraud charges.

A verdict and sentencing could be announced as early as next week but it is expected to take longer for a decision to be made.

"Messi should be acquitted," public prosecutor Raquel Amado said in her closing arguments. "The fraud occurred because of a decision of his father. There is no evidence Messi was aware of it."

Government prosecutor Mario Maza said Messi and his father did not prove their innocence and were not able to show that the player did not have at least some knowledge of the corporate structures created to lower his tax burden in Spain.

"Messi knew more than he made it appear (in court)," Mr Maza said, adding that they "showed no credibility".

Messi and his father refused to answer questions from Mr Maza when they gave evidence on Thursday, speaking only when quizzed by the public prosecutor, who had already called for Messi's acquittal before the trial began.

Tax inspectors said they found evidence that Messi's father used companies in countries such as Uruguay, Switzerland and Belize to pay fewer taxes on the player's income from image rights. Messi's father said he was told by a legal adviser that the practice was legal.

Because of the trial, Messi has missed part of Argentina's preparations for the Copa America in the United States. He has left Spain to join his teammates ahead of the team's first match against defending champions Chile on Monday.