LIONEL MESSI will fork out £3.25million to help Ronaldinho get out of prison, according to reports.
The Brazilian World Cup winner, 39, was arrested just over a week ago after allegedly entering Paraguay with a fake passport.
Ronaldinho has been warned that he could face up to six months in jail for using the alleged dodgy documents.
But 90Min claim that Messi plans to help his old Barcelona team-mate by hiring four top lawyers to take on his case.
It is reported that it will cost the Argentine ace up to £3.25million in legal fees.
Brazil legend Ronaldinho has lost a new appeal against his remand in prison.
The former Barcelona and AC Millan star was told late on Friday his fresh bid to be allowed out of jail and placed under house arrest had been rejected.
Paraguay’s Appeal Court said the former footballer posed a “medium to high” flight risk if his prison situation was modified.
His brother Roberto, who is being held in the same cell in a jail on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, also had his appeal rejected.
The decision makes it more likely the pair will have to sit out the next six months behind bars.
Ronaldinho’s lawyers were offering a property bond as their get-out-of-jail card.
More than a dozen other people have now been placed under formal investigation over the passport scandal Ronaldinho and his brother have been caught up in.
The list includes the Brazilian businessman alleged to have handed them their passports and two women believed to be the rightful owners of the travel documents.
Police were first called to Ronaldinho’s luxury hotel two days before his March 6 arrest after a tip-off he had entered the country hours earlier to attend a charity launch and present his new book with a Paraguayan passport which stated he was a naturalised citizen.
Prosecutors have said the passport was requested by a woman before its contents were doctored to include Ronaldinho’s photo and full name – Ronaldo de Assis Moreira. His brother had a similar passport.
The former footballer was initially offered the chance of an escape from trial and a fine before a U-turn by prosecutors led to him being arrested in dramatic fashion last Friday at the Sheraton Hotel and hauled to court in handcuffs the following day.
An expert in financial crimes has now been drafted into the remodelled prosecution team leading the investigation after its scope was widened to look at possible money laundering.
Ronaldinho and his brother are claiming they were tricked.
His Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin has said the former footballer had been given his Paraguayan passport as a “gift”.
He allegedly assumed it was an “honorary-type” document of no real value, and gave it to an official without thinking when he reached Paraguay because it was the “first thing he got out of his bag.”
Last weekend the lawyer branded Ronaldinho “stupid”, saying he hadn’t understand he had been given false documents to enter Paraguay.
Ronaldinho’s life has been under the microscope for all the wrong reasons since he won two Fifa World Player of the Year Awards as well as a Ballon d’Or at the peak of his playing career.
He officially retired from football in 2018 – which is the same year he was forced to deny bigamy claims.
He had his Brazilian passport confiscated after he was convicted alongside his brother of building an illegal fishing platform on a lake in a conservation area.
But Paraguayan prosecutors confirmed last week they had discovered it had been returned to him and he used it to leave Brazil on a flight from Sao Paulo.
The revelation has left a huge question mark over why Ronaldinho did not use the same passport when he entered Paraguay, with his lawyer’s comments about it being the “first thing” he laid his hands on being greeted with a mixture of derision and disbelief.
Last year it was reported the ex-Paris Saint-Germain only had £5 in his bank account.
Police raided Ronaldinho’s family home to seize assets in a bid to guarantee he paid fines due over the illegal fishing platform.
Officers were said last November to have seized three luxury cars and a piece of art from painter Andre Berardo.
Ronaldinho’s brother was sentenced to five years in jail in 2012 in Brazil for money laundering and other financial crimes.
Reports at the time said Roberto de Assis had been accused of lying to Brazilian tax authorities to justify the entry into his homeland of money held in secret accounts in Switzerland.
Ronaldinho has kept himself busy behind bars by playing in the prison futsal tournament – and he scored five goals.