Samuel Eto'o could face 10-year prison sentence as prosecutors recommend £12m fine over alleged tax fraud

Eto'o is accused of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of nearly £3.2m while he played for Barcelona between 2006 and 2009

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The Independent Online

Spanish prosecutors have recommended that former Barcelona and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o should serve more than 10 years in prison for alleged tax crimes committed while he played for the Catalan club.

Spanish court documents reveal that prosecutors are investigating four counts of tax fraud that totals to nearly $4m from 2006 until 2009, when the Cameroon international left the club to join Inter Milan.

They are demanding for a fine of $15.1m [£12.1m] for defrauding Spain’s tax authority, and are seeking the same punishment for the player’s agent at the time, Jose Maria Mesalles Mata.

Eto’o, 35, currently plays for Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor, having also played for Sampdoria and Everton in recent years. The well-travelled striker came through the Real Madrid academy before joining Real Mallorca in 2000, and Barcelona signed him four years later where he went on to become one of the best goalscorers in world football, helping the Catalans to three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns before he left the Nou Camp in 2009.

Eto’o won a third European title with Inter Milan in 2009/10 under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, and he linked up with the Portuguese once again when he joined Chelsea for the 2013/14 season.

The news comes a day after Spanish prosecutors recommended a two-year jail sentence and $10.6m fine be given to Neymar for his part in a corruption case that surrounds his controversial transfer from Santos to Barcelona.

Eto’o’s former Barcelona teammate, Lionel Messi, was charged with tax fraud earlier this year. Messi and Javier Mascherano both received prison sentences of 21 months and 12 months respectively after being found guilty of tax fraud, though they were suspended and resulted in neither serving any jail time providing they do not offend again during their suspended sentences.

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Eto'o played with Messi during their time at Barcelona together (Getty)

Messi was convicted in July this year for tax fraud and both he and his father, Jorge Messi, were sentenced to 21 months in prison. Neither have served time in jail though due to the suspensions to their sentence, with Messi ordered to pay €1.7m in fines over three counts of tax fraud, while his father had to pay €1.3m.

Neymar has already paid 188.8m Brazilian reals [£36m] after he was found guilty of tax evasion by a Brazilian court. Neymar was found to have failed to pay the tax due on his earnings from contracts with former club Santos, Barcelona and Nike from 2011 until 2013.

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Eto'o is under investigation for alleged tax fraud between 2006 and 2009 (Getty)

If found guilty, Eto’o is likely to serve jail time given prosecutors are seeking a much more severe punishment that those handed to Messi and Masherano and the one recommended for Neymar if he is charged.

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