Alexis Sanchez has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for committing tax fraud in Spain – but the Manchester United forward will avoid serving any jail time.
Local prosecutors’ office Fiscalia de Barcelona has confirmed to Press Association Sport that the 29-year-old has been handed two eight-month sentences for evading tax during his time at Barcelona.
But the Manchester United new boy will not go to prison as first-time offenders avoid jail if the sentence is less than two years.
Spanish new agency EFE reports Sanchez reached an agreement, having been accused of defrauding the Spanish Treasury of one million euros (£886,000) and hiding the income of images rights between 2012 and 2013.
The agency’s article says the Chile forward will pay back that figure plus interest, along with a fine of 590,065 euros (£523,029) and will not receive public aid or tax incentives in Spain for two years.
Barcelona's coach Pep Guardiola (R) returns the ball to his player Alexis Sanchez during their Spanish first division soccer match, the "Clasico", against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, December 10, 2011Reuters
Sanchez is the latest figure in football to have been chased by Spanish authorities.
Jose Mourinho, the Chilean’s manager at Old Trafford, claimed he paid all the money owed to tax authorities from his time at the helm at Real Madrid after a November court appearance in the Spanish capital.
Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano have all been convicted of tax evasion in recent years, while Cristiano Ronaldo is currently fighting alleged tax fraud charges.
Sanchez’s representative posted a lengthy “public declaration and clarification” about the case on Twitter.
Fernando Felicevich’s statement expressed anger about “repeated, continuous and obscene leaks” of information from such cases in Spain, suggesting it pressures figures in football to accept agreements.
Felicevich pointed out that the accused are “of course almost all foreigners” and that, in this case, Sanchez’s team had come to the conclusion that “it is better to accept an unfair agreement”.
The statement posted by @ffelicevich said: “In these circumstances, and despite having shown that Alexis has not committed any crime, we have been forced, on the recommendation of our advisors, to accept the unfair pact offered and thus alleviate the emotional, personal and economic wear and tear that endures long and tedious oral trials, where the media are used to publicly expose and judge facts of private nature.”