In a court filing, the judge in charge of the case rejected a request by the public prosecutor to try only the footballer's father. The pair were accused in 2013 of defrauding the taxman out of 4.16 million euros (USD 4.69 million) in taxes related to Messi's image rights between 2007 and 2009 through the creation of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay.

It is alleged they ceded the player's image rights to the companies in order to avoid declaring money made from lucrative deals with sponsors in Spain. No date has been set for the trial, which will take place in Vilanova i la Geltru, the town where the player lives, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Barcelona.

Prosecutors had asked for the case against the four-time World Player of the Year to be dropped as they consider the alleged fraud was carried out by his father, who has managed his son's affairs since he was a child.

They asked for Jorge Messi to be handed an 18-month prison sentence and a fine of half the defrauded amount.

However, lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities pleaded for the player also to be tried and for both defendants to face a seven-and-a-half month prison sentence for each individual charge, which could lead to an overall sentence of over 22 months.

In any case, both are unlikely to end up in jail as sentences of fewer than two years are normally suspended for first time offences in Spain. "There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties," the judge said in the filing.

Both father and son at first denied the accusations and laid the blame on a former financial advisor. However, Jorge Messi subsequently claimed he was in charge of his son's finances and pleaded for charges against the player to be dropped.

Jorge also made a corrective payment of five million euros in August 2013 to cover alleged unpaid taxes plus interest, which should mitigate any sentence.

The player's defence team will present evidence in court that will show that prosecutors were right to recommend that the case against him be dropped, the company that manages Messi's image rights, Leo Messi Management, said in a statement.

Latest News from Sports News Desk