Lionel Messi to avoid 21-month jail sentence


Prosecutors in Spain say they are happy for Lionel Messi’s 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud to be replaced with a fine, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

They said they are not opposed to the Barcelona star being fined €400 per day — a total fine of around €255,500 — for the duration of the sentence, an option also put forward by the player’s defence team.
Messi’s father, whose sentence was reduced to 15 months upon appeal, could also see the original punishment exchanged for a fine of around €180,000.

In line with what has been proposed by the prosecutors, a judge will now make the final decision.

Former Barcelona assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue returns to Balaidos as Celta vigo coach 

​Juan Carlos Unzue has returned to Celta Vigo to succeed Eduardo Berizzo as boss, further narrowing the field of candidates for the vacancy at Barcelona.

Berizzo, who is expected to take over at Sevilla following Jorge Sampaoli’s imminent departure for Argentina, left Celta at the end of a season in which the Galicians reached the semi-finals of the Europa League and finished 13th in La Liga.

Unzue – the assistant to Luis Enrique at Barca until the pair left the Nou Camp this weekend – has signed a two-year deal at Balaidos, Celta announced on their official website on Sunday.

The 50-year-old former goalkeeper had been touted as a long-term successor to Enrique in Catalonia, but his appointment as Celta head coach would appear to leave Ernesto Valverde in the clear to take charge of Barca.

The Copa del Rey winners will announce their new manager on Monday and Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao last week, is the front-runner with the likes of Sampaoli and Diego Simeone recently ruling themselves out of contention.

Ronald Koeman, Laurent Blanc and Arsene Wenger have also been linked.

Copa del Rey Final – Luis Enrique  sign off in style as Messi, Neymar and Paco Alcacer goals help clinch Copa del Rey title

Barcelona  31 Alaves

Luis Enrique ended his tenure as Barcelona manager in style with a 3-1 Copa del Rey final victory over Alaves at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a sumptuous finish on the half hour, only to be usurped by Theo Hernandez, whose exquisite free-kick hauled Alaves level three minutes later.

But two quick-fire goals on the stroke of half-time from Neymar, in contentious circumstances, and Paco Alcacer turned the game firmly in Barcelona’s favour.

Enrique is leaving after three years in charge at the Nou Camp.

Messi, who struck the opener after exchanging passes with Neymar outside the penalty area, became the first player to score in four Copa finals (2017, 2015, 2012 and 2009) since Athletic Bilbao’s Telmo Zarra in 1950.

Neymar, who forced in Barcelona’s second when Messi played in Andre Gomes to cross low from the right, is the first man to score in three successive Copa finals since Ferenc Puskas, who achieved the feat with Real Madrid between 1960 and 1962.

The one major worry for Barcelona was a nasty head injury to Javier Mascherano, who was carried off on a stretcher after an early collision with Marcos Llorente,

He suffered concussion as well as a cut to his head, and an injury to his right knee that will need further tests, the club said afterwards.

Ernesto  Valverde leaves Athletic Bilbao with Barcelona appointment imminent 

Ernesto Valverde has left Athletic Bilbao and could replace Luis Enrique as Barcelona coach.

According to multiple reports, Valverde has already agreed a deal to replace outgoing boss Luis Enrique in the managerial hot seat at the Nou Camp for next season, with the Catalan giants set to reveal their new coach next Monday.

Valverde’s contract with Athletic Club was already set to expire.
A brief club statement read: “Ernesto Valverde will not continue as coach of the first team of Athletic Club in the 2017/18 campaign.

“The coach, accompanied by president Josu Urrutia, will hold a press conference on Wednesday, May 24 at 1200 (local time) at San Mames.”
Valverde, who helped Barca win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Copa del Rey during his two-year spell at the club, had impressed since taking charge of Athletic for a second time in 2013.

He led the club to four successive top-seven finishes, a Copa del Rey final and the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

The former Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia boss also helped Athletic lift their first silverware in three decades when he masterminded a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barca to win the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.
Ernesto Valverde’s exit from Athletic Bilbao has been confirmed a week before Barcelona will announce their new head coach.
The confirmation will arrive two days after the team’s Copa del Rey final meeting with Alaves on Saturday.

La Liga results  – Ronaldo and Benzema scores as Real Madrid clinch first title in five years; Barca win but miss out

​Atletico Madrid 3 – 1 Athletic Bilbao

Celta Vigo 2 – 2 Real  Sociedad

Valencia 1 – 3 Villarreal

Barcelona 4 – 2 Eibar

Malaga 0 – 2 Real Madrid

  • Malaga 0 – 2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid won their first La Liga title since 2012 thanks to a final-day victory at 2-0 Malaga at La Rosaleda.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored early on to settle the nerves, latching onto Isco’s through ball to step around Carlos Kameni and tap into an empty net.

Karim Benzema added their second goal after the break after Kameni parried Sergio Ramos’ shot.

Real, who had only needed a point, now face Juventus in the Champions League final looking to complete a double.

The result means Zinedine Zidane, in his first full season as Real boss, is the first manager to lead Madrid to the Spanish league title since Jose Mourinho five years ago.

If Real beat Juventus in Cardiff, they will become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League – with Zidane having won the tournament six months into the job last summer.

  • Barcelona 4 – 2 Eibar

Barcelona fought back to beat Eibar 4-2 on the final day of the season, but could do nothing to stop Real Madrid winning the La Liga title.

Takashi Inui’s double put the minnows in charge at the Nou Camp, but a David Junca own goal got Barcelona back into it just after the hour mark, while Luis Suarez equalised after Lionel Messi missed a penalty.


Ander Capa was then dismissed for Eibar as he brought down Neymar in the box with 15 minutes to go, and Messi redeemed himself from the spot before sealing the win with a fine solo effort in stoppage time.

There was a rapturous reception at the Nou Camp for Luis Enrique before kick-off.

  • ​Atletico Madrid 3 – 1 Athletic Bilbao

Fernando Torres scored twice as Atletico Madrid ended life at the Vicente Calderon with victory over Athletic Bilbao.

The boyhood Atleti fan, who is out of contract this summer, scored twice in the opening 11 minutes, netting from close range and hooking home a volley.

The 33-year-old scored more La Liga goals at the Calderon than any other player in the 21st century – with 54.

Inaki Williams pulled one back before Angel Correa’s 89th-minute strike.

After the game, Atletico manager Diego Simeone stressed that he would remain at the club next season.

The Argentine had two spells as an Atletico player and has enjoyed a successful five and a half years as manager during which he has won La Liga (2013-14) and reached the Champions League final twice (2013-14 and 2015-16).

“The journalists ask me constantly if I am going to stay. Yes, I am going to stay,” Simeone told the crowd inside the stadium.

“And do you know why I am going to stay? I am going to stay because this club has a future and this future is all of us.

  • Celta Vigo 2 – 2 Real  Sociedad

Bilbao’s defeat, coupled with a dramatic 2-2 draw for Real Sociedad at Celta Vigo, meant Sociedad guaranteed Europa League football next season thanks to a 93rd-minute Juanmi equaliser.

A penalty from Iago Aspas put Celta Vigo ahead but Mikel Oyarzabal levelled after 82 minutes before Andrew Hjulsager looked to have won it for Celta.

But Juanmi was left unmarked to head home a corner and secure the all-important point.

  • Valencia 1 – 3 Villarreal

Villarreal secured fifth place in the table as an excellent performance brought them a 3-1 win at Valencia.

The visitors led in the first minute when former Spurs striker Roberto Soldado scored.

Nani levelled after the break, but Manu Trigueros was quickly on the mark to restore Villarreal’s lead and Nicola Sansone added another to wrap the game up.

La Liga results  – Ronaldo nets a brace as Real edge closer to title; Neymar bags a hat trick for Barca to keep up pressure on Real 

​Alaves 3 – 1 Celta Vigo

Athletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Leganes

Eibar 0 – 1 Sporting Gijon

Las Palmas 1 – 4 Barcelona

Real Betis 1 – 1 Atletico  Madrid

Real Madrid 4 – 1 Sevilla

Real Sociedad 2 – 2 Malaga

Villarreal 0 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna

  • Real Madrid 4 – 1 Sevilla

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, his 400th and 401  goals,for Real Madrid as they took another step towards the La Liga title with victory over Sevilla.

Real led through Nacho’s controversial free-kick before Ronaldo pounced on a rebound to double their lead.

Stevan Jovetic replied after the break, but Ronaldo’s sensational second strike, his 401st for Real Madrid, and Toni Kroos’ late goal sealed victory.

Real Madrid stay in second place behind Barcelona who beat Las Palmas 4-1.

Barcelona, who  beat Las Palmas 4-1on Sunday, keep hold of top spot courtesy of their head-to-head advantage.

But Real have a game in hand and need four points from their final two matches to lift their first title since 2012.

Despite having won just three of their last 11 matches, Sevilla still secured fourth place and a spot in the Champions League play-off next season as Villarreal were held at home to Deportivo La Coruna.

  • Las Palmas 1 – 4 Barcelona

Neymar hit a hat trick as Barcelona kept their hold on top spot — for the time being at least — with a 4-1 victory at Las Palmas.

Neymar broke the deadlock for Luis Enrique’s side after 25 minutes, slotting home from close range after being teed up by Luis Suarez.

And the pair swapped roles just two minutes later, with Neymar this time picking out the run of Suarez, who produced a clever finish to beat Javi Varas.

Pedro Bigas scored for Las Palmas in the 63rd minute, smashing home Kevin-Prince Boateng’s delivery, but Neymar restored Barca’s two-goal advantage just a few minutes later with a far-post header following Ivan Rakitic’s cross.

And Neymar completed his hat trick soon after, tucking the ball home after being found by Jordi Alba, to put the game out of sight.

  • Real Betis 1 – 1 Atletico  Madrid

Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Real Betis to secure third spot and qualification for the Champions League group stages next season.

Dani Ceballos scored a 57th-minute opener for the hosts with a strike from the edge of the box following a Betis corner.

However, Stefan Savic found an equaliser for Diego Simeone’s side in the 66th minute with a close-range strike to wrap up third place with one game of the season to spare. Sevilla are assured of fourth spot and will enter next season’s Champions League in the qualifying rounds.

  • Eibar 0 – 1 Sporting Gijon

Sporting Gijon were relegated despite winning 1-0 at Eibar.

Burgui’s 32nd-minute goal gave Sporting only their second away win of the season, but Deportivo La Coruna and Leganes both drew to doom them.

  • Athletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Leganes

Leganes secured their safety with a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Artiz Adruriz’s close-range strike — his 16th league goal of the season — gave Athletic the lead after 13 minutes.

But Alexander Szymanowski equalised on the hour with a header that meant so much for Leganes.

  • Villarreal 0 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna

Deportivo also guaranteed themselves another season in the top flight with a goalless draw at Villarreal, whose failure to win handed Sevilla a ticket to the Champions League.

  • Real Sociedad 2 – 2 Malaga

Real Sociedad failed to take advantage of Villarreal and Athletic, rivals for Europa League qualification, dropping points as they were held 2-2 at home by Malaga.

Xabi Prieto gave Sociedad a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot but Malaga went ahead through Luis Hernandez (45) and Recio (75) before Jon Bautista equalised five minutes from time.

  • ​Alaves 3 – 1 Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo, fresh from their Europa League semifinal exit to Manchester United, lost 3-1 to Copa del Rey finalists Alaves as they suffered a fifth straight league defeat.

Alaves scored three times in the opening 37 minutes through Manu Garcia, Zouhair Feddal and Deyverson, with Iago Aspas claiming a late Celta consolation from the penalty spot.

On Saturday 
Espanyol 0 – 1 Valencia

Osasuna 2 – 1 Granada

  • Espanyol 0 – 1 Valencia

Jose Gaya’s second-half goal gave Valencia a 1-0 away win at Espanyol.

A game of little goalmouth action and few chances was settled after 75 minutes when 21-year-old defender Gaya scored with a left-foot shot from the left side of the penalty area.

Espanyol could not muster a response and slipped to a third straight home loss, following defeats to city rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while Valencia secured back-to-back wins.

  • Osasuna 2 – 1 Granada

Osasuna won the battle of the basement clubs with a 2-1 win over Granada.

Jhon Steven Mondragon handed the home side the lead after 24 minutes, before Gustavo Ramos fired an unlikely equaliser for Tony Adams’ men four minutes before the break.

Kenan Kodro then slotted home from close range 15 minutes from time to record a morale-boosting win and condemn Adams to yet another defeat in charge of El Grana.

Latest Football News

Sir Alex Ferguson is driving Manchester United’s push to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. The Scot has taken the opportunity to sweet talk the Madrid star on several occassions recently as he tries to persuade the Portuguese to shun PSG for Old Trafford.

 

Meanwhile, Paris St-Germain will offer Ronaldo £250,000 a week after tax in an attempt to persuade the 30-year-old Portugal international to leave the Spanish capital.

 

Pep Guardiola is set to sign a new £17m-a-year contract to remain as Bayern Munich manager.

 

Luis Enrique is keen on a move for Miralem Pjanic but the Roma midfielder’s €50 million valuation is too high for Barcelona. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are also keen on the 25-year-old.

 

Manchester United’s hopes of signing Thomas Muller received a boost as the latest round of talks between the striker and Bayern Munich hit a roadblock. The German is hesistating over a new deal, but his current contract runs until 2019.

 

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren will be given more time and money despite their Premier League position. The Magpies are 17th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.

 

Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, now manager at Shanghai SIPG, wants Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, 30, to join him in China.

 

Arsenal are preparing a new move for Inter Milan’s Argentina forward Mauro Icardi, 22, when the January transfer window opens. The Gunners had a £32m bid for Icardi rejected in the summer.

 

Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool have all been made aware of the availability of Brazil forward Alexandre Pato, 26, in the January window. Pato is on loan at Sao Paulo from Corinthians.

 

Juventus are lining up a January move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco as they look to move back up the Serie A table, following their disappointing start to the season.

 

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, 26, has been told to stop driving a top-of-the-range sports car to prevent the risk of hamstring injuries.

 

Southampton will not sell forward Sadio Mane to Manchester United in January, although the 23-year-old Senegal international may leave at the end of the season.

 

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, 35, will train with the club next week but has ruled out a loan move back to Anfield. Gerrard is currently with Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy, whose season has ended.

 

Tottenham are in pole position to sign Axel Witsel in January. Spurs are long-time admirers of the Belgian, who is keen to leave the Russian Premier League. AC Milan are also interested, but Witself rejected a loan move to San Siro previously.

 

Aston Villa forward Jack Grealish, 20, has been told to train with the club’s Under-21 squad after allegedly visiting a Manchester nightclub hours after the club’s 4-0 defeat at Everton.

 

Former Manchester United and Arsenal forward Robin van Persie, 32, has reiterated his commitment to Turkish club Fenerbahce after being linked with Chelsea.

 

Manchester City are set to appoint Simon Davies as Under-21 manager to replace Patrick Vieira. Davies was Vieira’s former assistant and was a member of Manchester United’s so-called ‘Class of 92’.

 

Birmingham City want to sign Czech striker Libor Kozak, 26, from neighbours Aston Villa. Kozak, a £7m signing from Lazio in September 2013, has yet to make a Premier League appearance this season.

 

Former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson and Chelsea coach Steve Holland have pulled out of the race to be the next manager of Fulham. Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett is the favourite for the job.

 

Liverpool and Burnley will present their case regarding the transfer of Danny Ings, 23, at a tribunal next year. The Reds must pay compensation for the striker as he is under 24, and value him at £5m, but Burnley say they previously had a £12m bid from Tottenham.

 

Former Arsenal defender Arinse Uade, 19, turned out as a trialist for Norwich City Under-21s in a 2-0 win over Manchester United.

 

Raheem Sterling, 20, has employed a music teacher after spending £10,000 on a new piano.

 

Newcastle United midfielder Gael Bigirimana, 22, believes his future lies away from the club after failing to make an appearance for the Magpies since August 2013. Bigirimana has re-joined League One Coventry, the club where he started his career, on loan.

 

Stoke City defender Andy Wilkinson, 31, will fly to the United States to see specialists for a second time in an attempt to return from a career-threatening head injury. Wilkinson has not played since February.

 

Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt, 26, is wanted on loan by three Championship clubs – Leeds United, Reading and Cardiff City.

 

Middlesbrough are close to agreeing a deal with Manchester City to extend midfielder Bruno Zuculini’s loan at the Riverside. The former Argentina Under-20 international has made three appearances for Boro since joining at the end of October.