Lionel Messi favored in tax drama, says left-wing politician Alberto Garzon

Spanish left-wing politician Alberto Garzon lashed out at Spanish government on Wednesday, claiming that Spain's Minister of Finance is dragging his feet on the legal drama surrounding Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's tax evasion allegations as well as other high-profile cases.

The Spanish government has recently been cracking down particularly hard on tax evasion amid the country's continuing economic woes, with Messi one of a number of high-profile targets against whom cases have been opened.

"In this country, if your name's Messi, and you pay whatever money is necessary and negotiate with his [Montoro's] ministry, you don't go to prison. That's not justice; it's unworthy of the name," Garzon told Spain's congress.

"A lot of people say that the patriots and defenders of the system are the worst delinquents of all. They are the ones responsible for the fact that we don't have money for public health or pensions."

Messi and his father Jorge appeared in court in the Catalan town of Gava in September 2013, in a case taken as Spain's tax authorities maintain that "image rights" payments made to the player have been channelled through offshore tax havens, leading to the evasion of €4.1 million in taxes between 2007 and 2009.

Since news of the issue broke over the summer of 2013, the Messis have reportedly paid €5m to the authorities, to cover money owed from the 2007 to 2009 period, plus interest. They are also believed to have paid €10m in taxes due on such income for the years 2010 and 2011.