Saudi Arabia’s football association president, Yasser Al-Misehal, has confirmed that the country is interested in bringing Lionel Messi to the Pro League this summer. The news comes after Al-Hilal reportedly offered the Argentine superstar an eye-watering €600 million per year.
The offer, which was first tabled in March, has since almost tripled, making it one of the most lucrative deals in football history. While Al-Misehal refused to confirm the exact figures, he did admit that having two of the game’s greatest ever players in the league would be a significant boost for football development in the region.
Speaking to SSC News, Al-Misehal said, “I have no news, to be honest. There’s no doubt that, personally, I would like to see Messi in the Saudi Arabian League. It would complete the great leap that was made by Cristiano.”
The potential move would be a major coup for the Pro League, which has been making significant strides in recent years to attract top talent. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus in 2018 was seen as a significant turning point, with the Portuguese superstar helping to raise the league’s profile and attract more fans.
Messi’s arrival would undoubtedly take things to the next level, with the 34-year-old widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. The Argentine has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, where he has won numerous titles and broken countless records.
However, Messi’s future at the Catalan club has been in doubt since last summer, when he submitted a transfer request following a disappointing season. While he ultimately decided to stay for another year, his contract is set to expire at the end of June, leaving him free to negotiate with other clubs.
Al-Hilal is believed to be leading the race for Messi’s signature, with the club’s wealthy owners reportedly willing to pay whatever it takes to secure his services. The Saudi outfit has a strong track record of attracting top talent, having previously signed the likes of Bafetimbi Gomis, Sebastian Giovinco, and Andre Carrillo.
If Messi were to make the move, he would join a league that has been rapidly growing in recent years. The Pro League is currently ranked as the 12th best league in Asia, but with the addition of high-profile players like Ronaldo and potentially Messi, it could soon become a major force in world football.
Of course, there are still some hurdles to overcome before any deal can be completed. Messi’s astronomical salary demands would likely require significant financial backing from Al-Hilal’s owners, and there may also be concerns about the country’s human rights record.
Saudi Arabia has faced criticism in recent years for its treatment of women, political dissidents, and journalists, among other issues. Some have called for a boycott of the country’s sporting events, including the upcoming Formula E race in Diriyah.
However, Al-Misehal remains optimistic that the league can continue to grow and attract top talent, regardless of any controversies. “We have a clear vision for the future of football in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We want to continue to develop the game and bring in the best players from around the world.”
Only time will tell whether Messi will be one of those players, but if the rumors are true, it could be one of the biggest transfers in football history.