Well, this is a bit crazy.
Reports from France claim that Lionel Messi was paid almost $4 million to take a trip to African country Gabon as a guest of much-maligned president Ali Bongo.
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Messi, 28, was pictured laying a brick in the foundations for a new soccer stadium in Port-Gentil ahead of Gabon hosting the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Along with former Barca teammate Deco, the four-time World Player of the Year arrived in Gabon over the weekend.
President Ali Bongo has denied claims that the nation paid Messi for his visit, saying the Argentine superstar promised him he would visit Gabon when the duo met in Barcelona a few years ago.
Gabon, a former French colony, is said to have one of the most corrupt governments in the world with Ali Bongo accused of using public money for his own use and allegedly rigging elections to keep himself in power.
To add to all of this, Messi and his father Jorge are currently under investigation by the Spanish government for alleged tax fraud on image rights from 2007-09. The Spanish government claim that the duo hid over $5 million in tax through various shell companies.
Maybe Lionel’s reps should do a little more research before sending him on offseason trips overseas in the future. While Barcelona continue their preseason in the United States of America, the captain of the Argentine national team is currently enjoying an extended break after leading his nation to the 2015 Copa America final in Chile this summer.