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Reports: Cristiano Ronaldo strikes deal on tax fraud case

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MADRID (AP) Spanish media reports that Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to plead guilty to tax fraud and pay a fine of 18.8 million euros ($21.8 milllion) in exchange for a prison sentence that would most likely be suspended.

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Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Friday that Ronaldo is ready to admit to four counts of tax fraud that would carry a prison sentence of two years. Prison sentences not over two years in Spain are often suspended for first-time offenders.

The deal has yet to be ratified by Spain’s Tax Office, according to different Spanish media including Europa Press news agency.

Neither Spain’s Tax Office, its Ministry of Justice nor people close to Ronaldo would confirm the existence of a deal when called by The Associated Press.

Reports of the deal came hours before Ronaldo scored three goals to give Portugal a 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening match of the World Cup in Russia.

One year ago, a Spanish state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid.

Ronaldo denied any wrongdoing when questioned by a judge last July.

In 2016, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi received a suspended 21-month jail sentence after being found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros (then $4.6 million).

Real Madrid sign Brazilian teenage sensation Rodrygo

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Real Madrid have won three-straight European cups but they aren’t resting on their laurels.

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The Spanish giants have signed Brazilian teenage sensation Rodrygo, with the 17-year-old to join them next summer from Santos.

It has been reported that Real will pay $52 million for the Brazil U-20 international.

Rodrygo is dubbed as a star of the future for Brazil and he recently scored a nine-minute hat trick in Brazil’s top-flight for the same club which produced Pele and Neymar in the past.

It’s safe to say Real think the Santos star will follow in his footsteps.

In a brief statement on their website, Real had the following to say about signing Rodrygo.

“Real Madrid C. F. and Santos Futebol Clube have agreed that Rodrygo Goes will play his football at Real Madrid when he reaches the legal age requirement. Although the player would be able to play for our club as of January 2019, the agreement in place sets out that he will join the squad in July of that year.”

The battle for the best talent across the globe continues for the likes of Real, Barcelona and elite clubs across Europe and Rodrygo certainly falls into that category.

This signing follows on from Real forking out $53 million for 16-year-old Brazilian star Vinicius Junior from Flamengo last year, plus Norwegian sensation Martin Odegaard as there is an obvious policy to stockpile top young talent whenever they can.

Emotional Lopetegui at Real introduction: Spain firing ‘saddest day’

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It’d be fair to assume Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would sympathize with anyone changing managers in a fit of emotion, but the 71-year-old is enraged on behalf of his new coach Julen Lopetegui.

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Madrid introduced Lopetegui on Thursday. The Spanish coach is taking the reins from resigned boss Zinedine Zidane one day after the Spanish national team fired Lopetegui for taking the Real job without informing them.

Yes, the same Spanish team who enters this month’s World Cup as one of the favorites.

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Perez lambasted the Spanish federation, which claimed both Lopetegui and his new club “betrayed” the country, citing Chelsea and Manchester United hiring Antonio Conte and Louis Van Gaal on the eve of major tournaments for their national teams.

And Lopetegui claimed his players reacted well to his telling them he’d leave the national team set-up after the World Cup.

At one point, Lopetegui became emotional in discussing the last 24-48 hours.

From Real Madrid’s web site:

“I believe I’m ready for this adventure and to take the wonderful squad of players we have under my wing. Real Madrid aspires to win everything and I feel part of the family at this club. Yesterday was the saddest day of my life since the death of my mother, but today is the happiest.”

We get it, Julen, and there’s no reason for him to feel shamed. We supposed he could’ve told Real to wait until after the World Cup to speak, but then could miss out on a dream job.

The 51-year-old coached Real Madrid B from 2008-09 before moving onto Spain’s youth set-up, then Porto, then Spain’s senior team.

Spain boss Lopetegui to take charge of Real Madrid

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Julen Lopetegui will be the new manager of Real Madrid.

The current Spanish national team coach has signed a three-year deal to take charge of the reigning European champions and he will leave his role at the end of the 2018 World Cup.

Following the departure of Zinedine Zidane in mic-dropping fashion just days after he delivered a third-straight European title, Real had been linked with bringing in Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino as their new boss.

In a brief statement on their website, Real announced they’ve appointed the former FC Porto manager on the eve of the World Cup.

“Julen Lopetegui will be the Real Madrid coach after the celebration of the 2018 World Cup. Real Madrid C. F. announce that Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of the first team during the next three seasons. Julen Lopetegui will join the club after Spain’s participation in the World Cup, after two years leading the national team.”

The 51-year-old has an impressive resume after leading Spain’s youth national teams to glory and then leading the Spanish national team to a waltz through World Cup qualifying after he took over from Vicente del Bosque in 2016.

This is somewhat of a surprise but Lopetegui is among the most promising coaches in the world and he will now return to the club where he began his journey. Lopetegui graduated from Real’s academy but played just once for the first team in a nomadic 17-year career across Spain.

Quite what this announcement means for Spain’s chances of winning the World Cup this summer remain to be seen, but Lopetegui will no doubt be fully focused on guiding his nation to success to begin his reign as Real boss in the best possible fashion.

Report: Real Madrid could pursue $400M Neymar move

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In a growing transfer market, the amount spent on players continues to skyrocket, however, we could be in store for another record-breaking summer.

Neymar, who has been the subject of another giant move after the World Cup, is at the forefront of these transfer talks with Real Madrid reportedly waiting in the wings to swoop in and nab him from Paris Saint-Germain.

The Sun is reporting that Madrid, who is currently manager-less following the abrupt departure of Zinedine Zidane, could be willing to pay over $410 million for Neymar’s services following his duties with Brazil at the World Cup.

The Brazil international completed a record-breaking move to the French capital last summer from Barcelona for over $260 million.

The report also suggests that Neymar could leave PSG after September 1 for a fee of over $350 million, however, the transfer deadline closes at the conclusion of August, meaning Real would have to wait until the January transfer window to complete a move.

Neymar is coming off of a strong first season in Ligue 1, however, PSG’s dismissal from the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 to Real, along with an injury that Neymar suffered, has been a major cause for speculation that he will in fact exit the club following his journey to Russia next week.