Lionel Messi is one of the most recognizable soccer players on the planet -- and given his four-year reign as soccer's best player (he won FIFA's player of the year award four years running), he is the most outstanding player on the planet too. Cristiano Ronaldo may have something to say about that, but that's neither here nor there.

Messi's gift to play soccer has led to him being the 10th best paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes. He made more than $41 million this year alone, with more than half of that coming from endorsements. The Argentine playmaker -- who lives in Spain, near his club team Barcelona -- is well-known all across Atlanta and the country. His name is synonymous with soccer brilliance.

But Messi's reputation is on the line now as Spanish officials claim that the superstar owes the country roughly $5.3 million in back taxes, stemming from income he earned from third parties. The officials claim he shielded the income in offshore bank accounts. As Spain continues to recover from their own financial nightmare in the past five years, the country has become stricter on their tax regulations.

Messi says the evasion claims are false; but the threat of a fine that would equal 150 percent of the owed taxes, plus the damage to his sparkling reputation, is immense.

Surely there is an appeals process in Spain that Messi will utilize. In addition, the complicated tax codes of numerous European countries could have led to complications in Messi's case; something that many tax delinquent individuals are aware of. These mix-ups can result in successful appeals of their tax debt.

Source: Associated Press, "Messi allegedly owes $5 million in back taxes," June 12, 2013