Lionel Messi’s move to Saudi Arabia is “a done deal” according to sensational reports.
Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and it’s emerged that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be not be extending his stay in the French capital.
It comes after Messi was disciplined by PSG for taking an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is a tourism ambassador.
Messi issued an apology via video and has since returned to first-team training but his two-year stint in Paris looks to be over.
The Argentina captain has been heavily linked with a return to Barcelona, who he joined as a 13-year-old in 2000 before going on to become the club’s record goalscorer and greatest player.
But while the Blaugrana were exploring ways to pull off the deal, AFP, citing a source close to negotiations, say Messi will be joining long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Middle East and that the transfer is “huge”.
#BREAKING Messi’s move to Saudi a ‘done deal’: source close to negotiations pic.twitter.com/9XN1BAum03
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 9, 2023
The deal with Saudi side Al-Hilal is believed to be worth a whopping £522 million, making it one of the most expensive contracts in the history of sports.
Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr in December and reportedly earns an eye-watering £175 million per year with the Riyadh side.
Messi, who played in Saudi Arabia for PSG against a Riyadh XI captained by Ronaldo in January, already rakes in around £20 million from his ambassadorial duties in Saudi but the rumoured pay packet will dwarf that.
His former Barcelona colleagues Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have both been touted as transfer targets for Al Hilal, who have former Manchester United and Watford striker Odion Ighalo on their books.
Al Hilal are fourth in the Saudi Pro League but are in the King Cup of Champions final against Al Wehda on Friday.
Manager Ramon Diaz was asked about a potential mega move for Messi and remained tight-lipped on the matter.
“Now we are focused on the game; we have a final,” Diaz replied.
“And after the final, we’ll see what happens.”