Lionel Messi is has reportedly agreed a deal to sign for Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal. The Argentine may also get one over Cristiano Ronaldo in the process with Sergio Busquets also said to be on his way to the club despite being linked with a move to join the Portugal captain at Al-Nassr.
Messi’s future has been one of the big talking points in the football world since the World Cup with his PSG contract up at the end of the season. The Argentina captain has been linked with a host of teams including Inter Miami and a return to Barcelona but it now appears he has settled on another club instead.
Spanish outlet El Chiringuito TV report that he has agreed to sign for Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal with former Barcelona team-mates Busquets and Jordi Alba set to join him in Riyadh. The deal is said to be worth around £262million a year in what would be one of the most expensive contracts in football history.
Messi’s move would see him face old foe Ronaldo again as the duo re-establish their rivalry in the Middle East. Busquets joining alongside the Argentine would also be a blow to the 38-year-old after Al-Nassr had hoped to sign him themselves.
Messi’s presence at the club is likely to hold the cards to Busquets move given the pair are close friends.
Last week, Messi was banned and fined by PSG for two weeks after making an unsanctioned trip to Saudi Arabia after the Ligue 1 defeat to Lorient. He has returned to training this week but may not play any part in the weekend’s match if the club stays true to their initial suspension.
Messi apologised for his actions last Friday, suggesting it was an honest mistake as he believed the team had a day off.
“First of all, I want to apologise to my team-mates and the club,” he said via his Instagram. “Honestly, I thought we were going to have a day off after the game like we did in previous weeks.
“I had this trip organised, which I had cancelled already. I could not cancel it again. I repeat, I want to say sorry for what I did. I am waiting to hear what the club want to do with me.”
Messi already plays a significant role within Saudi Arabian society serving as a tourism ambassador for the country. It remains to be seen whether or not he will start playing his football in the Middle East but it appears increasingly likely that he will given recent developments.