Al-Hilal preparing lucrative £194m-a-season deal for Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is reportedly set to be offered a deal worth £194m-a-season to move to Saudi Arabia after his father was spotted in Riyadh earlier this week.Subscribe
The 35-year-old's PSG contract is due to expire this summer, and he will become a free agent if he does not agree an extension before then.
Messi's father and agent Jorge, who is also a Saudi ambassador, has been in Riyadh in recent days, sparking speculation that he could be negotiating a move for his son.
Saudi Arabia are looking to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding Messi's future, with one of their top clubs Al-Hilal ready to offer him a lucrative contract once their transfer ban finishes at the end of the season, according to Marca.
Messi's great rival Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in a £175m-a-year deal in December, and Saudi Arabia are now planning to convince the Argentine to follow him by moving to the Middle East.
They are believed to be desperate to make the deal happen, with politicians willing to get involved to increase the salary limit in the Pro League so that Messi can play in it.
Messi had looked likely to extend his stay at PSG at the turn of the year, fresh off the back of winning the World Cup with Argentina in December.
But negotiations appear to have stalled since then, and it is no longer guaranteed that he will remain in the French capital beyond this season.
The French champions have also suffered a significant dip in form in 2023, which may have caused Messi to have doubts about signing a new deal, with Christophe Galtier's side already out of the Champions League.
Bringing Messi to Saudi Arabia would be a major coup for the Middle Eastern country, and would leave them with the two biggest stars in world football playing in their league.
Messi and Ronaldo are widely recognised as the finest players of their generation, having won the Ballon d'Or 12 times between them.
It appeared that their rivalry could be over for good when Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia, but they faced each other once more in a friendly in January when PSG played a Saudi All-Star team, and they could go head-to-head on a regular basis if Al-Hilal convince Messi to agree to their proposal.
Ronaldo has scored eight goals in seven league matches for Al-Nassr and is the biggest star in the division by a distance, but that status would be challenged should Messi move to Saudi Arabia in the coming months.