Lionel Messi is being lined up for a world record $400m-a-year move to Saudi Arabia.
The World Cup winning forward is set to leave PSG in France in the summer, and Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal are ready to make a sensational swoop for the former Barcelona star.
This week the prolific forward and his family visited Saudi Arabia together for the first time.
Current club PSG suspended the seven-time Ballon D’Or winner for two weeks after he travelled to Saudi Arabia without permission.
French media reported that PSG will not renew his contract when it runs out in the summer, leaving Messi as a free agent and able to accept any offer of his choice.
A romantic return to Barcelona has been long mooted, with a willingness on part of the club, player and fans. Whether Barcelona can afford to pay his wages without support from La Liga is another matter.
Inter Miami, in the US Major League Soccer League, is another option for Messi should he step away from Europe’s main leagues.
That leaves Saudi Arabia among the favourites to step forward and make another high-profile swoop to sign a football icon.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in January – a move that highlights the ambition and audacity of the football scene in Saudi Arabia.
Messi’s father and agent Jorge was spotted in Saudi Arabia last month and talks are underway to bring the 35-year-old to the Kingdom.
A contract worth $400m-a-year until the end of the 2025 season would see Messi’s salary eclipse the world record $212m a year paid to Cristiano Ronaldo.
More excitingly, for football fans if not the players themselves, a move to Al Hilal would reignite one of the greatest football rivalries of any generation.
Messi v Ronaldo has been a fixture of sporting debates around the world since the two forwards were winning trophies, picking up awards and setting scoring records while playing for Barcelona and Madrid during their primes.
Saudi Arabia has recruited former Manchester City chief executive to lead negotiations on behalf of the Saudi Pro League.
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