Lionel Messi is reportedly negotiating a $400m-a-year deal with Saudi Arabia
Lionel Messi may be on the verge of a financially harrowing move to Saudi Arabia.
The Paris Saint-Germain star is in talks with the Saudi Arabian government over a potential free-agent deal worth up to $400m (£320m) a year, according to The Telegraph. Messi’s current contract with PSG expires this summer.
Messi’s father Jorge and former Manchester City CEO Garry Cook are reportedly involved in the negotiations.
Such a deal would wipe out the largest known salary of any athlete in the world and far exceed the nine-figure deal the country landed with Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo last year. Even in his prime, Messi’s own annual earnings from Barcelona were “only” around $167m a year, according to a leaked deal.
Messi already has a long history of working with the region’s oil states, which are known for using sport to try to overcome their terrible human rights record on the world stage. He has been working as Saudi Tourism Ambassador since May 2022 and has played for PSG, owned by Qatar Sports Investments, since 2021.
Messi’s next move was in question for a while as November was reportedly close to a deal to join Inter Miami in the MLS and December was close to staying at PSG.
Where would Lionel Messi play in Saudi Arabia?
After the signing, Saudi Arabia could reportedly place Messi at club Al-Hilal, the most successful team in the Saudi Professional League. In 47 seasons of the SPL, Al-Hilal has won the championship 18 times and finished runners-up a further 15 times, plus a record 13 Crown Prince’s Cups and four AFC Champions League titles.
This placement would again put Messi in direct opposition to Ronaldo who currently plays for Al-Nassr. According to The Telegraph, Ronaldo’s time in Saudi Arabia went as hoped for the Saudis:
“Saudi ministers are pleased with the impact that the signing of Ronaldo has had on the people. Attendance at the Saudi Pro League has nearly doubled year-on-year, and conversations about the league on social media among women and girls have surged 237 percent since its arrival, according to an official, figures seen by Telegraph Sport.”
Paris Saint-Germain have suspended Lionel Messi for traveling to Saudi Arabia
Such a deal being in the works is not surprising as Messi’s current team posted the writing on the wall a day earlier on Tuesday.
The club reportedly suspended Messi for two weeks for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia and have no plans for a contract extension. That’s obviously not her choice as The Telegraph reports her one-year contract offer has been on the table since January.
Now we may know why they were willing to suspend their most famous player, even if it hurt their relationship.