Exclusive: Don’t expect a swift solution to Lionel Messi’s proposed Saudi Arabia move with Barcelona pushing hard to stop £320m-a-year deal

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With the figures being bandied around regarding a contract for Lionel Messi in Saudi Arabia, it’s no wonder that it’s likely to take time for any i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed.

According to The Telegraph (subscription required), were the Argentinian captain to move to the Middle East and renew his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, he would earn in the region of a mammoth £320m per year.

That type of money is hard to comprehend, and would be very hard to turn down were it offered to Messi, however, on the face of it at least, if appears that money isn’t the main driver for Messi.

As the player and his entourage appear to dilly-dally, it’s appeared to offer some hope to Messi’s former club, Barcelona, though the Catalan club are likely to have to pull out all the stops to bring the player home.

‘The feeling is that everyone involved in a potential deal wants a Messi-Ronaldo rivalry in Riyadh, hence why Al-Hilal has always been the intended club,’ senior journalist, Ben Jacobs, wrote in his exclusive CaughtOffside Substack.

‘Nothing is done or signed just yet, but those close to the deal are certainly more confident now than a few months ago. And one reason why is because a PSG stay is off the table.

‘Those working on a Saudi deal are hoping to lock something in before Barcelona have a chance to table anything. 

‘I think it unlikely, though, Messi will rush into a decision before he knows what is possible at the Camp Nou.’

The difficulty for Messi is that each offer has merits and demerits.

Playing for Barcelona again would’ve appeared unthinkable a few months ago, and the fact that it’s being thought about as a possibility, suggest that any relationships have been repaired.

The Catalan club will give the player the opportunity to continue to play at the highest level in Europe for at least another season.

However, it’s believed that there’s an enormous disparity between the amount that the Spanish league giants can pay him when compared with what he might be able to earn in Saudi Arabia.

If, and it remains a big if at this point, Barcelona can come up with something approaching an acceptable package, it will be interesting indeed to see if Messi will take it.

We can’t discount a move to MLS either, with Ben Jacobs giving a reason why that move could come to pass too.

‘The Saudi strategy is to try and build their league quite aggressively now and thus go head-to-head with MLS for certain star players’ he added. 

‘MLS is expected to benefit significantly from the 2026 World Cup. David Beckham’s Inter Miami are also one possible destination for Messi as well. 

‘Saudi are expected to bid for the 2030 World Cup, but they don’t want to wait until then to start bringing big names over.’

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