Lionel Messi has used social media to brand a series of stories in the Argentine media – including that he had paid former team-mate Ronaldinho’s bail – as “fake news”.
The Barcelona star issued the angry denial on Thursday evening after TNT Sports reported that he had put down the money to free the ex-Camp Nou star from prison in Paraguay.
Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto Assis were released from prison in Paraguay on Tuesday and placed under house arrest after 32 days behind bars. The pair were arrested in early March after allegedly using a false passport to enter the country.
Lawyers for Ronaldinho and Assis have posted a $1.6 million (£1.3m) bail on behalf of their clients, after a previous application was denied because authorities deemed the pair to be a flight risk.
The sudden payment of such a substantial fee has led to speculation as to where the money came from – however, Messi made it clear via his Instagram page that it was nothing to do with him.
He also refuted recent stories linking him with a move away from Barcelona, with Inter being heavily touted as a possible next destination.
Screenshotting a tweet from TNT Sports, Messi wrote “#FakeNews'”and “Lie 1: Messi to Inter, Lie 2: Messi gave money to Ronaldinho in jail”.
He then added another sentence, which translates as: “What they said about Newell’s Old Boys a few weeks ago is also false, thank God no one believed them…”
Former Inter president Massimo Moratti claimed that a deal for Messi was possible for the Serie A side . He told Radio Rai: “I don’t think it’s a forbidden dream at all. Maybe it wasn’t even before this misfortune [the coronavirus lockdown].
“Messi is at the end of his contract and it would certainly be attempted to bring him home. I don’t know if this situation will change anything, but I think we will see strange things at the end of the year.”
Former Inter midfielder Benoit Cauet also insisted the Nerazzurri can sign Messi , while even La Liga president Javier Tebas suggested their biggest name player leaving the league “would not be a drama.”