Lionel Messi is reportedly wanted by Saudi Arabia outfit Al-Ittihad, with the recent World Cup winner set to be offered a contract worth significantly less than Cristiano Ronaldo’s, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.
Earlier this season, Ronaldo’s lucrative contract was terminated by mutual consent with Manchester United, 18 months after his blockbuster return to Old Trafford. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, agreeing to a two-and-a-half year contract worth a reported £173 million per year, making it one of the most expensive contracts in all of sport.
But now, Lionel Messi is the next global superstar wanted by a Saudi Pro League team, with Al-Ittihad prepared to offer the Argentian a two-year deal worth £78m per year. That is according to Spanish outlet Marca, anyway.
If the reports are to be believed, it would mean his contract would be worth nearly £100m less than what Al-Nassr will pay Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi’s future – is it with PSG?
Paris Saint-Germain are still interested in retaining Messi for a few more seasons despite previous interest from other clubs, including David Beckham’s Inter Miami and the Argentine’s first club Newell’s Old Boys.
Lionel Messi’s potential new team Al-Ittihad have players like former Wolves and Leeds United winger Hélder Costa in addition to Ahmed Hegazi who had a three-year spell at West Bromwich Albion. While Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr have a squad that contains the likes of former Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo and former Benfica playmaker Anderson Talisca among their ranks.
Will Ronaldo stay out in the Middle East?
During his first Al-Nassr press conference, Ronaldo hinted that he will likely retire in the Middle East.
“In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and played for the most important clubs in Europe,” the Portugueseman said.
“This is a great opportunity for me, not only in football, but to change the mentality of the new generation in Saudi Arabia.
“I had many opportunities in Europe, in Brazil, in the United States and even in Portugal, but I gave my word to this club, for the opportunity to develop football in this amazing country.”
If Messi were to join Al-Ittihad on a two-year deal this summer, the 35-year-old will leave the club at 37, suggesting that two of the greatest players of all time will finish their careers in the Middle East.
A somewhat fitting end to a sensational era of football, even if the Saudi Pro League isn’t where most expected it to end.