Almost 200 footballers in the Premier League and Football League and 29 agents are under investigation by HMRC as they expand their investigation into football’s use of image rights loopholes and tax-avoidance schemes.

HMRC officials told the media this weekend that they have also spoken to the Spanish tax authorities after they prosecuted Jose Mourinho and Alexis Sanchez.

In total, 198 players at 44 clubs, in addition to 29 agents, are under investigation, an increase of 17 players and eight agents since April. HMRC have already netted £329m in tax for the Treasury after a number of clubs settled.

“HMRC carefully scrutinises the individual image rights arrangements between clubs and their players to make sure the right tax is being paid in the UK,” said a spokesman.

“We’re making enquiries for a range of issues, including image rights abuse. HMRC rigorously enforces the rules and has brought in £329m in extra tax by tackling noncompliance in football.”

Alexis Sanchez accepted a non-custodial prison sentence back in February for defrauding the Spanish Treasury of £888,620.

Alexis Sanchez L of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Neymar
Alexis and Neymar both had problems with the tax man in Spain

Sanchez admitted to tax avoidance during his time at Barcelona between 2012 and 2013 after appearing in a Barcelona court in January 2017.

The case revolved around his failure to declare profits of around £888,620.

According to Spanish outlet Estadio Deportivo, Sanchez accepted a 16-month prison sentence, but will not be imprisoned.

Sanchez reached the agreement with the Attorney General and the State Attorney after paying back the tax and interest he owed on image rights.

Sanchez had allegedly set-up a Maltese-based company called Numidia Trading to maximise profits on his image rights between 2012 and 2013.

Estadio Deportivo also state that a second foreign company was involved, though they do not name the company.

Sanchez was reportedly handed two eight-month sentences for crimes against the Public Treasury, but will not face imprisonment so long as he doesn’t commit another crime within the next two years.

The Chilean is one of several former and current Barcelona players, including Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Dani Alves, to have been involved in tax avoidance cases.