Football super-agent Jorge Mendes is due to be questioned by a Spanish judge for the first time Tuesday as part of a probe into striker Radamel Falcao’s alleged tax evasion, just one of his clients to fall foul of the country’s judiciary.
As Spanish authorities tighten the net around footballers – with Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, another Mendes client, the latest to be accused of tax evasion to the tune of 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million) – their advisers and agents are coming under scrutiny too.
Monaco’s Falcao is suspected of failing to correctly declare 5.6 million euros of income earned from image rights between 2012 and 2013 while he was at Atletico Madrid.
The Colombian is accused of using a web of shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Colombia and Panama to avoid taxes on the image rights income.
Mendes is due to appear before a court at Pozuelo de Alarcon, near Madrid, as part of the investigation, but his company Gestifute has already denied any wrongdoing.
“Neither Jorge Mendes nor the company he manages, Gestifute, participate in or offer any service linked, directly or indirectly, to financial, fiscal or legal advice to their clients,” it said earlier this month.
Falcao is but one of Mendes’ clients to run into trouble with Spain’s judiciary.
Ronaldo himself, the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes, is due to be questioned by a Spanish judge on July 31 over alleged tax evasion.
Fabio Coentrao, the Portugal international who also plays for Real Madrid, is suspected of having hidden close to 1.3 million euros in revenues.
And Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, another Mendes client, has been accused of failing to pay millions of euros in taxes during his time in charge of Real Madrid.
In this case though, Mendes’ company Gestifute said Mourinho had resolved the situation with tax authorities.
Mendes, a 51-year-old former nightclub manager, found himself in the eye of the storm last year in the “Football Leaks” media investigation into alleged soccer corruption.
Based on millions of documents, the investigation claims he offered his clients ways to avoid paying taxes on some of the money they earned.
According to the EIC media consortium he allegedly helped his clients evade a total of 185 million euros in advertising revenues “via a network of shell companies and offshore accounts in Ireland, in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Switzerland.”
Mendes, who is very discreet and rarely gives interviews, has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
Born to an oil industry worker in Lisbon, Mendes left the Portuguese capital aged 19 to enter the business world in the northern provincial town of Viana do Castelo.
A video rental business which he opened became a successful venture and soon he would meet Portugal keeper Nuno Espirito Santo in a disco he was also running.
A former semi-professional footballer himself, Mendes set about cultivating close links to players, creating his own network and starting to look after their interests.
With the transfer window set to open next month, the frenetic nature of speculation has already begun.
Rumours are starting to gather pace and we take a look at the latest stories doing the rounds in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Tottenham have laughed off speculation linking Manchester United with a summer bid for Harry Kane, with the Independent claiming Spurs chairman Daniel Levy values the England striker at £200 million.
United boss Jose Mourinho is understood to be a keen admirer of Kane, but even a £100 million approach would be rejected out of hand by Tottenham.
Kane’s 29 Premier League goals saw him win the Golden Boot for the second straight season, holding off Everton’s Romelu Lukaku by four goals.
SPORT360 RATING: 4/10
VERDICT: It is unlikely the 23-year-old will leave the Wembley Stadium any time soon, especially when Levy is looking for a fee of around £200 million for the club’s prized asset.
The Daily Mirror reports that Swansea have rejected a £30 million bid from Everton for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Toffees boss Ronald Koeman is unlikely to be dissuaded, however, as he targets a player who scored nine goals and provided 13 assists to help the Swans survive in the top flight last season.
SPORT360 RATING: 4/10
VERDICT: Sigurdsson said previously that he has no intention of leaving the Liberty Stadium unless the club want to sell him. The Iceland playmaker has been the leading light in a struggling team over the past two seasons but is happy to stay in south Wales.
Crystal Palace have entered the race to sign Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City, writes the Daily Mirror.
The young Nigerian striker has emerged as a transfer target for West Ham and Leicester in recent weeks and now the ambitious Eagles are ready to swoop.
The 20-year-old is under contract until 2021, but given his options are limited under Pep Guardiola, he has been tipped with a move away from the Etihad Stadium this summer.
Iheanacho has started only five games this season and with Gabriel Jesus in sparkling form, it could be a similar case next campaign.
SPORT360 RATING: 8/10
VERDICT: First team football would do Iheanacho wonders and a move to Crystal Palace would offer this opportunity. Although a fee of £20 million is a lot for a striker who has had limited game time, Palace need to take a risk if they want their side firing next season.
Prosecutors in Barcelona say they are not against replacing football star Lionel Messi’s 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud with a fine, a spokeswoman announced Friday.
They said they were willing to give the 29-year-old a fine of 400 euros ($450) a day for the duration of the sentence – an option that the defence of the Argentina international has also proposed.
That would amount to more than 250,000 euros, although the court has the final decision over whether to go ahead with this option.
The daily fine would come on top of the 2.09-million-euro fine Messi was also given when he and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were found guilty of tax fraud in a trial last year and sentenced to 21 months in jail.
Both appealed, but Spain’s Supreme Court last month confirmed the jail term for the Barcelona striker, although it reduced Messi’s father’s sentence to 15 months.
The pair used companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi’s income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.
The income related to Messi’s image rights that was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.
Messi is not the only football star to run into problems with Spain’s courts, with Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo the latest to have been summoned to appear before a judge investigating tax fraud.
He is due to be questioned on July 31 on suspicion of evading 14.7 million euros in taxes.