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Alexis Sanchez fined and given suspended tax fraud sentence

ESPN FC's Ale Moreno feels Alexis Sanchez will attract more attention from defenders, which will then allow Romelu Lukaku more space in the attack.

Alexis Sanchez has accepted a 16-month suspended prison sentence and been fined €590,065 (£524,575) for tax fraud relating to his image rights while a Barcelona player.

As the sentence is less than two years and for a first offence, it is suspended under Spanish law.

Manchester United player Sanchez had already paid the Spanish authorities €983,443 plus interest in taxes due on image rights between 2012 and 2013, a document provided by Barcelona's public prosecutor's office to ESPN FC showed.

He was found guilty of two counts of fraud and admitted concealing his image rights income from the Spanish tax office via companies based overseas.

Sanchez's agent, Fernando Felicevich, called the deal "unfair" and issued the following statement via Twitter on Wednesday. 

"The prosecution and the Spain tax office have put more than 30 footballers in this exact same situation, accusing them of the same fraud and threatening them with prison sentences.

"The repeated, continuous and obscene filtering of information during the investigation process has been a violation of the rights of those being processed and are a method of pressuring the players to accept agreements, like that of today, which was leaked to the media.

"On many occasions, there has been no other option but to give in to the pressure and to avoid even greater injustice by accepting unjust agreements like the one accepted today.

"This is what many players and coaches have had to and will continue to have to do. With these circumstances and despite the fact that Alexis has shown that he has committed no crime, we have been obligated, by recommendation of our advisers, to accept a settlement that is not just.

"After seeing the long drawn out process to which players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc. have been subjected, we have determined that it is better to accept an unfair deal so that we can turn the page rather than continue to be subjected to media and political pressure."

Sanchez is the fifth player to have been on the books of Barcelona and involved in a tax case in the Spanish courts.

In July 2016, Lionel Messi was found guilty of three counts of tax fraud, fined and given a suspended 21-month sentence.

Javier Mascherano pleaded guilty to concealing part of his earnings from image rights and was fined and given a suspended one-year sentence.

Samuel Eto'o and Brazilian defender Adriano also have open cases against them over alleged tax evasion in Spain.

Sanchez made over 100 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona after a 2011 move from Udinese before being sold to Arsenal in the summer of 2014.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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