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Javier Mascherano sentenced to a year in prison over £1.15m tax fraud

Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined €815,000 (£625,000) for two tax offences.

However, the star is not likely to be spending a year behind bars, as his lawyer David Aineto has requested the prison sentence to be substituted for a fine.

In Spain people handed sentences of less than two years are not required to serve their sentence, unless they are being punished for violent crime.

The Barcelona and Argentina player was handed a one-year prison sentence, which will not be applied

The Barcelona and Argentina player was handed a one-year prison sentence, which will not be applied

Mascherano (left), who paid the amount with interest last year, has to pay a fine of £625,000

Mascherano (left), who paid the amount with interest last year, has to pay a fine of £625,000

Mascherano, 31, was given four-month and eight-month sentences for the two offences which took place in 2011 and 2012.

The Argentine star had already repaid the full €1.6million (£1.15million) debt owed to the tax authorities before he was given his punishment.

Mascherano also paid the interest on the money, but has still been hit with a new fine.

His tax offences were for failing to declare earnings from image rights he ceded to companies which he owns in Portugal and the United States.

The hearing on Thursday lasted only 10 minutes, according to reports in Spain

The hearing on Thursday lasted only 10 minutes, according to reports in Spain

Mascherano was handed a four-month sentence and an eight-month sentence for the separate offences 

Mascherano was handed a four-month sentence and an eight-month sentence for the separate offences

The former Liverpool midfielder pictured arriving at the court for Thursday's hearing in Barcelona

The former Liverpool midfielder pictured arriving at the court for Thursday’s hearing in Barcelona

Mascherano published an open letter after the verdict in which he insisted he was an ‘honest and responsible person’.

He wrote: ‘I am a professional athlete, I have no great knowledge of tax and legal issues. Therefore, I’m helped by people that handles these issues, which for me are complex.

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‘Throughout my career I was an honest and responsible person, respecting my colleagues, the clubs I represent and the countries in which I lived.

‘This situation I’m going through is another experience, from which I will come out stronger, and very calm as I am once again within the law.

Mascherano lawyer is hoping to reach agreement for him to pay another fine instead of going to jail

Mascherano lawyer is hoping to reach agreement for him to pay another fine instead of going to jail

Mascherano (centre) was in action for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night

Mascherano (centre) was in action for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night

‘I reserve the possibility of action against those who advised me badly by recommending me something which was not right.’

Mascherano is not the only Barcelona star who is having financial problems, with Messi set for a court appearance in May after he and his father were also charged with tax fraud through image rights arrangements.

Meanwhile, in September Neymar had over £30m of assets frozen after being accused of not paying all his taxes.

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