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The Saudi Pro League is hoping to lure Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia to pair with Cristiano Ronaldo, ESPN reports.
Ronaldo made the move himself following the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, signing a two-and-a-half year deal worth $200 million a year with Al-Nassr. However, league officials don’t seem content to bring just one superstar to the country’s premier soccer league and are hoping to add a current World Cup champion next summer.
Messi’s current deal with PSG is set to expire this summer, which resulted in earlier reports that the 35-year-old was close to making a move to Inter Miami. However, Le Parisien claims that Messi will sign back with the Ligue 1 club through the 2023–24 season, which nixed any thought of a jump to the MLS.
The Le Parisien report would also seemingly complicate any departure to the Saudi Pro League for Messi, but ESPN reports that if the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner decides to leave PSG, there will be several Saudi clubs lining up to make him offers. If that becomes the case, Messi could expect to earn a similar deal to the one that Ronaldo landed with Al-Nassr at the end of December.
Soccer fans in Saudi Arabia got the chance to witness what it would be liked to see both stars in the country’s domestic league last week when the two squared off in a friendly. Messi’s PSG club beat a Riyadh All-Star XI side that featured Ronaldo, 5–4, but both players found the back of the net in the match at King Fahd International Stadium.
Messi, 35, is fresh off leading Argentina to a World Cup victory last month, the first of his accomplished career. In 15 Ligue 1 matches with PSG this season, he’s tallied eight goals and 10 assists.