ROME – Italy’s tax collection agency has threatened to sue lawyers for Diego Maradona who claimed he won his 20-year battle over tax debts.

Maradona lawyer Angelo Pisani said his client won the dispute and “can now return to Italy as a free man.”

But the collection agency, the Agenzia delle Entrate, issued a statement on Friday saying it had not “annulled, declared extinct, nor modified” Maradona’s debts, and that “to the contrary” it had rejected a request from the Argentine.

The agency added it will evaluate if there are grounds to sue for damages.

Maradona’s Italian debts of nearly €40 million (more than $50 million) stem from alleged unpaid taxes during the time he played for Napoli from 1984-91, when he helped the club win its only two Serie A titles.

In previous visits to Italy in recent years, tax police have confiscated two Rolex watches and a diamond earring from Maradona.

In 2010, plans for a match in Naples celebrating Maradona’s 50th birthday had to be abandoned due to threats from tax authorities.

Napoli is second in the Serie A, three points behind Juventus, and Maradona hopes to return to Naples to cheer on his former club in the title chase.