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Mascherano pleads guilty to tax evasion

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano has pleaded guilty to tax evasion after appearing at a Spanish court on Thursday.

The Argentina star was accused of failing to alert Spanish authorities to earnings totalling more than €1.5million, reports said.

Mascherano is alleged to have used companies he owns in Portugal and the United States to cover up two payments for image rights in 2011 and 2012.

A spokesman for Mascherano told Argentine news agency Telam: "The defendant acknowledged the facts and his responsibility for tax evasion."

Claims in the Spanish press said that Mascherano has already paid €1.5m to the tax office with a further €200,000 in interest, and it is thought that by pleading guilty he will avoid a prison sentence.