Argentine football legend Lionel Messi is holding talks for a USD 400 million annual deal with the Government of Saudi Arabia to play in the Saudi Pro League in the summer of 2023, The Telegraph reported late on 3 May.
News of the deal came hours after Messi was suspended by his current club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for two weeks for travelling to Saudi Arabia without its permission.
Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, set multiple records while leading Argentina to victory at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He is one of the richest footballers in the world and has a billion-dollar fortune.
Everything to know about the reported deal for Lionel Messi
Messi would get much more than Cristiano Ronaldo’s deal
According to the report by The Telegraph, Messi’s father, Jorge, is leading talks on the Saudi Arabia deal.
The USD 400 million deal from Saudi Arabia is twice that of what Cristiano Ronaldo agreed upon when he moved to Saudi Arabia to play for Al Nassr after his unceremonious exit from English Premier League club Manchester United. Ronaldo’s deal ends in the summer of 2025.
If Messi’s USD 400 million deal materialises, it will be the highest ever for any footballer in the sport’s history.
Why is Messi planning a move to Saudi Arabia?
Messi arrived at the Ligue 1 club PSG from La Liga club Barcelona in 2021 on a two-year deal extendable by one year. But according to the BBC, he will not be activating the extension and end his contract following its expiry on 30 June 2023.
The BBC report says that Jorge informed PSG’s football advisor Luis Campos of the decision a few weeks ago.
It is not clear which Saudi club Messi would join, but according to Forbes Spanish radio station Onda Cero says he will eventually sign up with Al-Hilal. But the radio station also speculated that he might play with Barcelona for a year before making his Saudi Arabia move.
What Messi did during his Saudi Arabia trip
Messi had revealed his Saudi trip on Instagram a few days ago with a promotion of Saudi Arabia tourism.
“Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can. #visitsaudi,” read a post on his Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Ahmed Al Khateeb, the Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, too, posted undated pictures of Messi and his family in Saudi Arabia on 1 May.
I am happy to welcome #Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences.
— Ahmed Al Khateeb أحمد الخطيب (@AhmedAlKhateeb) May 1, 2023
“I am happy to welcome #Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences. We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality,” the minister’s tweet read.
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(Main image: Image credit: FIFA.com/@FIFAcom/Twitter; Featured image: Leo Messi/@leomessi/Instagram)