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Messi offers to pay $558,000 to avoid 21-month jail sentence

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has offered to pay an additional fine of 500,000 euros ($558,000) to ensure he avoids a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud that a judge is expected to suspend, a Spanish state prosecutor said Friday.

State prosecutor Isabel Lopez Riera told The Associated Press the fine-for-time deal was presented by Messi’s lawyers to the judge who will rule on whether to suspend Messi’s sentence – as is widely expected. Lopez Riera said she has told the judge that her office is not opposed to the deal.

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Lopez Riera said Messi’s lawyers have made a similar offer for the Barcelona player’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi. He is offering to pay 360,000 euros ($402,000) to avoid his 15-month sentence for helping his son cheat on his taxes.

In Spain, prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be suspended by a judge.

The government attorney representing Spain’s Tax Office in the case will also be able to weigh in on the proposed deal. As state prosecutor, Lopez Riera is impartial in the case as a defender of the public interest.

Last year, a court in Barcelona found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. The unpaid taxes were from money made through endorsement deals, not Messi’s salary paid by Barcelona.

Messi was fined 2 million euros and his father 1.5 million euros. Both were originally sentenced to 21 months, but his father’s sentence was later reduced to 15 months.

In the last two weeks, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho have been accused by a Madrid-based state prosecutor of having defrauded Spain’s Tax Office of millions of euros (dollars) in unpaid taxes.

Both have denied wrongdoing.

Latest on Ronaldo: PSG offer readied for Perez meeting

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Cristiano Ronaldo will meet with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez at the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, according to reports, at which point a pair of cut-and-dried options could be on the table.

Paris, or the status quo.

Marca reports that Ronaldo will bring a “money no object” offer from Paris Saint-Germain into the meeting, although the same outlet says Perez will know exactly what’s coming due to an understanding between the two big money clubs.

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The 32-year-old Ronaldo remains in fine form at the Confederations Cup, with Portugal’s unbeaten run continuing in Russia. If Portugal is upset by New Zealand in its group stage finale on June 24, it would still stand a good chance of proceeding to the knockout rounds depending on the Mexico-Russia result.

That means the Perez-Ronaldo meeting wouldn’t occur until after July 2, which is when the Final and third-place playoff are scheduled in Russia.

In the meantime, Real manager Zinedine Zidane is said to be cutting his vacation short to meet with Perez regarding not just Ronaldo’s future but the club’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe (which is a bit over-dramatic given the above news. Feels like a phone call could get the job done).

Real Madrid speak out about “strange” Ronaldo situation

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Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez has been speaking about reports that Cristiano Ronaldo could leave this summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho tax fraud claim ]

After being accused last week of defrauding the Spanish authorities of over $16.4 million in tax payments regarding image rights, Ronaldo has reportedly stated he wants to move on from the reigning Spanish and European champs.

Speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Perez stated that Real Madrid doesn’t want to think about Ronaldo, who has a court hearing on July 31, leaving the club.

“I do not want to draw conclusions. I know Cristiano; he’s a great guy and a professional. All this is very strange,” Perez said. “I have not spoken with him since [the Champions League final in] Cardiff. I’ve heard everything through the newspapers. Not I nor anyone at Madrid is contemplating that Cristiano could leave the club. We are very relaxed about this. I have not spoken to any [other clubs]. No one has made us a single offer; not for Cristiano Ronaldo, not for Alvaro Morata, not for James Rodriguez.”

As for Ronaldo’s tax situation, Perez admitted it has damaged the credibility of the Portuguese star with the man who has led Real Madrid to three UEFA Champions League titles in the past four seasons more than a little upset.

“What happened to him has affected his credibility. He will surely tell us and we will see what happens,” Perez said. “The tax issue I do not know well. Our obligation is to comply with tax duties. The principle is that, starting from that principle, and Cristiano has always had the will to fulfill because I know him as a person. He has to fulfill his fiscal obligations, like all. His lawyers have said he has never hidden anything, and I believe in his credibility. If there is no concealment, there is no bad faith, and his lawyers say there has been no concealment so there is no will to cheat.”

Of course Real Madrid don’t wont to lose Ronaldo. He has scored 406 goals in 394 games in all competitions since joining them in 2009 from Manchester United. He is a goalscoring machine and even at the age of 32 he shows no signs of slowing down.

Yet with Ronaldo seemingly seeking sympathy from the fans and officials at Real Madrid, it’s hard to predict if he will get it. Last season he was even booed by a section of Real’s fans (you read that correctly) so they may not be too worried about massaging Ronaldo’s ego as he battles these serious allegations.

Ronaldo just wants to be wanted and loved and if he doesn’t feel that in Spain, or feel like he’s getting the required support from Real Madrid, then he will want out. This is the biggest issue Real Madrid face over the coming months.

Jose Mourinho accused of tax fraud in Spain

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has been accused of tax fraud by the Spanish prosecutor.

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On Tuesday it was revealed that the prosecutor had failed a claim against Mourinho, 54, who is accused of defrauding the Spanish treasury of over $3.68 million.

The Spanish authorities are looking in to Mourinho’s time as Real Madrid manager and are focusing on 2011 and 2012 where he is accused of not paying income tax on image rights.

Below is a statement from the Spanish prosecutors office.

“The economic crimes department of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Madrid has filed a complaint in the courts of Pozuelo de Alarcón against José Mourinho in which he is accused of committing two crimes against the Public Treasury during the years 2011 and 2012 for a Total amount of 3,304,670.

“This investigation was initiated in the Public Prosecutor’s Office after the State Agency of the Tax Administration informed the Prosecutor’s Office of this information. From now on it will be the judge who is in charge of the case who must carry out the necessary steps to determine the possible responsibilities of Mr. Mourinho.”

Mourinho is not the first, and probably won’t be the last, high-profile name to be accused of not paying tax on image rights.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Real Madrid is in question after the Portuguese superstar, who also has the same agent as Mourinho, Jorge Mendes, had similar allegations thrown at him. Ronaldo has vehemently denied the allegations but has to appear in court on July 31. Barcelona’s star duo Lionel Messi and Neymar have also had similar issues with the Spanish authorities in recent months.

Surely I’m not the only person thinking: “how have these guys not got a decent lawyer and accountant to figure all this out?”

Real Madrid’s Perez on Ronaldo: “He’s a Real Madrid player”

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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez navigated the Monday press conference regarding his re-election without a single mention of Cristiano Ronaldo.

On one hand, that means Perez did not lend any credence to rumors that Ronaldo wants to leave the club following tax evasion charges in Spain.

On the other hand, the boisterous, outspoken, and by no means bashful Perez did not come to the defense of his superstar.

UPDATE (from Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol): 

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What that means is up to you to interpret, but Perez was expected to speak about Ronaldo’s future during the press conference. The fact that he didn’t could be as simple as “sources” being incorrect, or incredibly complex.

Marca has reported that Real manager Zinedine Zidane has unsurprisingly reached out to the Portuguese hero to try and soothe what ails Ronaldo.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move back to Manchester United, and one rumor claims that he’ll be offered along with Alvaro Morata in exchange for goalkeeper David De Gea and a whopping $234 million.