Lionel Messi 'accepts deal to join Saudi club Al-Hilal' after PSG
Lionel Messi ‘accepts £260m-a-year megadeal to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal’ when he leaves PSG in snub to Barcelona… with old team-mates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba possibly joining him
- Reports in Spain suggest Messi will join Saudi Arabia club Al-Hilal this summer
- 35-year-old is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons with the club
- World Cup winner has been linked with a return to Barcelona but ‘favours Saudi’
Lionel Messi will reportedly sign for Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal this summer after accepting a megadeal worth £260million-a-year.
The 35-year-old Argentine World Cup winner will depart Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and, according to reports in Spain, will snub Barcelona and head to the Middle East.
El Chiringuito TV say Messi will accept the proposal tabled by the four-time Asian Champions League winners and follow his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi.
Remarkably, they also report he will be joined there by his former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets, who will accept a two-season deal, and potentially also Jordi Alba.
It emerged last week that Messi will end his two-season stay in Paris at the end of the campaign, with Barcelona’s interest no secret and MLS club Inter Miami also linked.
Lionel Messi has reportedly accepted a £260million-a-year deal to sign for Al-Hilal
Messi, 35, visited Saudi Arabia with his wife Antonela and children Ciro and Mateo as part of his duties as a tourism ambassador for the country last week
Messi poses with a falcon during his Saudi visit amid rumours he could play football there
But if the reports are to be believed, Messi will accept the lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia’s most successful team.
Messi is already a tourism ambassador for the country, paid £25m-a-year to do so, and it was an unauthorised visit to Riyadh last week that hastened his exit from the Parc des Princes.
Messi, wife Antonela Roccuzzo and children Ciro and Mateo were photographed enjoying attractions in the capital Riyadh and Diriyah during their visit.
PSG’s players had a scheduled day off on the Monday but following their 3-1 defeat to Lorient the previous day, manager Christophe Galtier ordered them in for extra training.
Messi, however, was already in transit to Saudi Arabia – a country where he could be playing his football next season – and wasn’t able to turn back.
Because the trip was not sanctioned by Galtier, nor by sporting director Luis Campos, PSG suspended Messi for 15 days and also docked some of his wages.
On Friday, Messi apologised in a social media message to the club and his team-mates for missing the training session.
‘I thought we were going to have a day off after the game as always,’ Messi began in the 39-second clip shared onto his Instagram story.
Messi could be about to join his long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League
Messi released a video apologising for his unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia last week
‘I had this trip organised and I couldn’t cancel it. I had already cancelled it before. I apologise to my team-mates and I’m waiting for what the club wants to do with me.’
The apology was accepted and, after Messi missed PSG’s 3-1 win over Troyes on Sunday, he returned to training with them on Monday.
But despite coming back into the PSG fold early, Messi is set to move away this summer.
Fans gathered outside the club headquarters on Wednesday to chant for the PSG board to resign, while they also called for Messi to leave the club, with the Argentinian also receiving jeers from supporters at recent matches.
PSG have been trying to extend his contract over the last few months, but that is now up in the air after Monday’s developments.
If Messi’s offer from Al-Hilal is worth £260m, it will exceed the £175m-a-year Ronaldo earns at Al-Nassr.
PSG tweeted out a photograph of Messi on the ball in training on Monday afternoon
The 35-year-old signed a £25m-a-year deal with Saudi Arabia last year to become a tourism ambassador
Messi’s mission will be to restore Al-Hilal to the top of the Saudi Pro League and re-establish them as a dominant force in Asian continental football.
They are presently fourth in the domestic standings, seven points behind second-placed Al-Nassr and 10 off the leaders Al-Ittihad.
El Chiringuito report that former Spain defensive midfielder Busquets, 34, will also move to Al-Nassr after accepting their proposal.
Busquets, who played alongside Messi for the majority of his career, is out of contract this summer and reportedly hasn’t been impressed by Barcelona’s ‘very low’ renewal offer.
The cash-strapped Catalan side have massive financial issues which are limiting the wages they can offer players.
Long-serving left-back Alba, 34, could also leave the Nou Camp and El Chiringuito say he too will go to Al-Hilal if he agrees to terminate his Barcelona contract, which has one year left to run.
Sergio Busquets could be reunited with Messi at Al-Hilal having played together at Barcelona
Jordi Alba is another Barcelona player who could be tempted to the Middle East this summer
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