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Lionel Messi Joining Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia: Is it Simply Inevitable?

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Rumors of an offer worth more than $400 million per year only make it more plausible that Messi leaves PSG for Al Hilal this summer.

As it becomes increasingly likely that Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires in June, new reports from indicate that the soccer GOAT has an offer from Saudi Arabia that could pay him up to $400 million per season to play for Riyadh club Al Hilal.

Months after longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo signed a nine-figure per season deal with fellow Saudi club Al-Nassr, Messi is very much in play for Al-Hilal SFC after the club reportedly submitted the 35-year-old Argentina superstar a formal contract last week. It’s part of an overarching push into soccer by the Saudi government and its sovereign Public Investment Fund that is expected to culminate in a formal bid later this year to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

Messi has served as a paid global ambassador for the Saudis over the last several months, an awkward dynamic as defending tournament champion Argentina considers a 2030 bid of its own.

So, the question now turns to whether anyone — person, club, entity, or otherwise — can actually do anything to slow down the Messi to Al Hilal train that’s officially screaming down the tracks. According to outlets like ESPN, it might just be a 50-50 proposition.

As Messi achieved and celebrated his career capstone, an elusive World Cup win and Golden Boot for Argentina, back in December in Qatar, results at PSG have been sub-optimal (to say the least) by their own standards. Consecutive Round of 16 losses in the UEFA Champions League, most recently a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich, and stunning Round of 16 setbacks in the domestic Coupe de France have accelerated speculation at Parc de Princes that the super-talented PSG roster’s nucleus could break up this summer.

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While conventional wisdom previously assumed Messi would either return to his boyhood club of FC Barcelona, head to the United States and Major League Soccer and play for David Beckham‘s Inter Miami, or sign with a more conventionally moneyed European power like Chelsea or Manchester City, money talks.

And this time, it could lead Messi right back to Ronaldo in order to play out the twilight of his career on Saudi Arabian nights.

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