According to reports in France, Lionel Messi, the legendary football player, will be making a big-money move to Saudi Arabia this summer to sign a massive contract worth £522 million with Al-Hilal. Messi, who is widely regarded as the world’s best footballer, is set to reignite his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently plays for Al-Nassr in the controversial Gulf state. A Saudi source close to the negotiations has confirmed the move is a “done deal.”
Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, reportedly has concerns about the move and “could not imagine” relocating their family to Saudi Arabia, potentially creating a stumbling block for the transfer. She is said to be reluctant to move to the Middle East and would prefer to stay in Europe.
Messi had reportedly been prepared to wait until the end of the season to make his decision after discussing his future with his family. Still, it appears that those concerns have been allayed, and he is set to move to Saudi capital city Riyadh.
French outlet L’Equipe has claimed that the offer on the table for Messi is a two-year deal with the option of a third, which would see the player turn 38 before it expires. However, Messi would have preferred to stay in Europe, with the star reportedly keeping an eye on the financial situation at former club Barcelona.
Barcelona, where Messi played for most of his career, must find around £175 million to register recruited players or players already on the books who they sign to new contract extensions. Financial struggles at Camp Nou have made an emotional return to his spiritual home impossible, ruling out a move back to Spain. A move to MLS has also been mooted, with David Beckham’s co-owned Inter Miami said to be keen, but a switch to America also appears to have been ruled out.
Reports suggest that Al-Hilal’s offer has won Messi over, despite his wife’s reluctance to relocate to Saudi Arabia. The offer is rumoured to be worth around £400 million ($505m), which would see him become the highest-paid player on the planet, edging back ahead of Ronaldo. Although there had been conflicting reports regarding Messi’s interest in moving to the Middle East, the 35-year-old has seemingly decided that lining up against Ronaldo is the right career move for him.