Reports from Spanish radio station Onda Cero suggest that Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi is planning to cut short his potential time at FC Barcelona and eventually join Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.
Messi is currently serving a two-week suspension for travelling to Saudi Arabia as a tourism ambassador without the permission of PSG’s Qatari owners. He will miss games against Troyes and Ajaccio and be docked two weeks’ pay, which could reportedly amount to around €1.7 million ($1.9 million).
According to French sports magazine L’Equipe, PSG have also cancelled a contract renewal offer to the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. His current arrangement at the Parc des Princes expires on June 30, and he has been heavily linked with a return to former club FC Barcelona.
Barcelona keen on a Lionel Messi reunion
The Catalan giants are trying to convince La Liga that they can make the numbers work for the potential deal, despite needing to shed €200 million ($220 million) from their wage bill. If they succeed, Messi has reportedly already decided his next move.
On Onda Cero’s Radioestadio Noche program, aired early on Wednesday morning in Spain, it was reported that Messi plans to stay at Barca for just one year before heading to Saudi Arabia. His closest friends at the club, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, are said to be following him to the Middle East, where Cristiano Ronaldo currently plays for rival Al-Nassr.
Last month, Saudi Gazette reported that Al-Hilal had proposed a €400 million ($441 million) a year offer to Messi in order to join them, which would immediately put him in line to top Forbes’ lists of the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Player and Athlete. Messi was the World’s Highest-Paid Athlete in 2022, while Kylian Mbappe was the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Player.
If Onda Cero’s reports are to be trusted, it appears that Al-Hilal’s rumored salary may be too good to refuse. However, this would go against the wishes of Barcelona, who are said to want him on a two-term deal so that he can finish his time in Europe with them at the renovated Camp Nou in 2025.
By staying for just one year, Messi would only play for the Catalans at the Montjuic Stadium, which will be their temporary home for the 2023/2024 season while Camp Nou gets renovated. It remains to be seen whether the Argentine will indeed choose to leave Barcelona again and embark on a new adventure in Saudi Arabia.
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