The spectacular, high-profile transfer of Lionel Messi from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabia this summer is reportedly a “done deal” in France.
Despite the alleged worries of his wife Antonela Roccuzzo, the 35-year-old Messi, who is regarded as the best footballer in the world, will sign a big contract worth £522 million with Saudi club Al-Hilal.
His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who represents Al-Nassr in the contentious Gulf state and plays for Al-Hilal’s rivals, will be reignited as a result of the move.
Messi will play in Saudi Arabia next season, a Saudi source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told AFP on Tuesday morning, describing the move as “huge.”
The source said that the move is now “done deal” while remaining anonymous.
PSG did not make a comment to AFP, other than restating that Messi’s contract lasts until June 30 this summer.
It was reported earlier on Tuesday that his wife Antonela ‘could not imagine’ moving their family to Saudi Arabia, in what remains a potential stumbling block to the move.
She is reportedly reluctant for the couple, along with their three young sons – Thiago, 10, Mateo, 7, and Ciro, 5 – to relocate to the Middle East and she would prefer to stay in Europe.
And Messi had reportedly been prepared to wait until the end of the season to make his decision after discussing his future with his family – but it now appears those concerns have been allayed, with Messi set to move to Saudi capital city Riyadh.
French outlet L’Equipe claim the offer on the table for Messi is a two-year deal with the option of a third, which would see the player turn 38 before it expires.
It was also said Messi himself would have preferred to stay in Europe, with the star reportedly keeping an eye on the financial situation at former club Barcelona.
But it now appears he has closed the door on a return to Spain.
Barcelona – where Messi played for most of his legendary career – must find around £175m to be able to register recruited players or players already on the books who they sign to new contract extensions.