Chile’s Alexis Sanchez handed 16-month prison sentence

LONDON – Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez has been handed a 16-month prison sentence in Spain but he will not serve any time in jail as long as he does not commit another crime within the next two years.

The Chile international last month admitted to defrauding Spanish tax authorities to the tune of £900,000 over image rights payments during his time at Barcelona.

Sanchez, 29, was accused of defrauding the treasury of €1 million between 2012 and 2013, relating to income from his image rights, but he has reached an agreement which will see him pay the money he owes.

Short-term jail sentences are typically not enforced in Spain, with terms of less than two years being served under probation.

But Sanchez, aged 29, has also been fined £525,000 and will have to pay back the £900,000 he owes to the taxman.

The former Arsenal man set up a company based in Malta called Numidia Trading to avoid paying tax on his images rights payments from Barca between 2012 and 2013.

Several high-profile Spanish football figures, including Sanchez’s former team-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, have faced similar charges over tax evasion.