Giving the assembled crowd a thumbs up and a cheeky smile, you wouldn’t think Lionel Messi was just about to step into a Spanish courtroom to face charges of serious fraud on Friday morning.
It seems like he should be more worried than he is.
Messi, 26, and his father Jorge Messi are accused of defrauding the Spanish authorities of more than 4m euros ($5.4m) as the four time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year has been under intense pressure all summer, since the allegations became public knowledge.
Appearing before a judge in the affluent area of Gava near Barcelona, the Argentine attacker and his father deny the allegations, while The Messis’ lawyer said he wanted to resolve the matter. The root of the allegations comes after the soccer star and his father are suspected of using companies abroad – in Belize and Uruguay – to sell Messi’s image rights and skipping out Spanish tax obligations. They were accused of doing this from 2007-09
According to reports leaking out of the closed-court, the full blame has been put on Jorge Messi and Barcelona’s star striker Lionel had no knowledge of what was going on. Also, Jorge Messi has already paid the Spanish tax authorities 5m euros in August to settle the unpaid bill, with interest, and many thought the matter would be resolved rather quickly. However, with the Spanish credit crunch hitting many hard, it is believed the authorities want to make an example of Barca’s main man, as he allegedly undertook fraudulent activities, following several top companies paying for his image rights.
Whatever the outcome of this case is, many will question how other soccer stars, and other top athletes for that matter, are selling their image rights.
The field is set for the fourth round of the FA Cup, as Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Southampton joined 29 other teams in the fourth round.
Newcastle United 2-1 Birmingham City
Matt Ritchie scored twice and Yoan Gouffran also scored as the Magpies clinched a trip to third-tier side Oxford United. David Cotterill scored in the 71st minute to provide an interesting finish, but Newcastle weathered the storm.
Jurgen Klopp chose another youth-heavy lineup, but a pair of Premier League vets got the job done for the winner. Philippe Coutinho assisted Lucas Leiva‘s 18th mintue goal to give the Reds a home date with Wolverhampton.
Divock Origi had a late penalty saved by Luke McCormick, but it didn’t come back to haunt the Reds.
Southampton 1-0 Norwich City
Saints got a much-needed albeit ugly win when Shane Long won a tussle in the box to score a stoppage time winner. Southampton will host Arsenal in the fourth round.
Derby County vs. Leicester City
January 28 Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Oxford United vs. Newcastle United
Lincoln City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs. Brentford
Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town
Burnley vs. Bristol City
Blackburn vs. Blackpool
Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City
Southampton vs. Arsenal
Millwall vs. Watford
Fulham vs. Hull City
Sutton United vs. Leeds United
“Jermaine is a winner who has experience in MLS and playing against the highest competition in the world,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo. “He has a relentless engine on the field and we are confident that he will strengthen our midfield. We look forward to him joining the Galaxy as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
When healthy, Jones remains a game changer at the MLS level. He was not healthy often during his season in Colorado, but the Rapids did not lose a regular season game in which he hit the pitch.
Given the amount of buzz surrounding Lyon’s supposed interest in Memphis Depay, it’s no surprise this one got done.
The Ligue 1 side has agreed to buy the Manchester United winger for a fee that will range between $20 and $27 million. Reports claim the Red Devils have both buy back and sell-on clauses inserted in the deal.
Memphis was purchased for approximately $30 million from PSV Eindhoven in May 2015. That was hot on the heels of a 22-goal season that paced the Eredivisie.
After scoring two goals for United in his second appearance for the club, Memphis managed just 7 in 45 appearances. He hasn’t scored in seven matches this season.
Memphis has 27 caps with five goals for the Netherlands, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t reinforce his status with a prolific spell in France.
Lyon is fourth in the Ligue 1 table, eight behind third place PSG and 11 points back of leaders Monaco and Nice. The club is in the Round of 32 for the French Cup, and meets AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League.