Lionel Messi finds himself in the middle of a messy transfer situation just a few months after guiding Argentina to victory at the World Cup and effectively crossing his last sporting barrier. There are indications that his current club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is not interested in renewing his contract.
But if the French giants decide against it, where will he go? There are now two options for destinations.
Barcelona, his old club where he spent more than two decades, is located on one side. Al-Hilal of the Saudi Pro League, on the other hand, was outwitted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer transfer to rival Al-Nassr and is currently fresh off a defeat in the AFC Champions League finals.
The uncertainty surrounding Messi’s situation at the moment is partly due to his troubled experience at PSG. The state-owned French team in Qatar has tried every strategy and changed managers without being able to fully develop its frontline of Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar.
The issue of Messi’s age is another one that has recently come up on the pitch. His ability to carry the ball as effectively as he once did has been diminished by a decline in his ball-carrying speed. When you combine that with his unwillingness to push and win the ball back for his club, PSG finds itself suddenly in possession of a luxury that it cannot afford, not even with its big pockets.
Although tensions have been simmering for some time, the superstar’s brief trip to Saudi Arabia for a “holiday” served as the catalyst. Because Qatar and Saudi Arabia are bitter political adversaries in the Middle East, Messi’s trip to Riyadh “without permission” while under contract was too much for Doha to tolerate.
The suspension was implemented right away. Some of the most boisterous PSG fans in Europe marched to the club’s offices and demanded that one of the biggest names in contemporary football be released.
Although Messi quickly apologised, the player-club relationship is still strained and may be past repair.
“I genuinely believed that, as it had been in the previous weeks, we would have free time after the game. I previously cancelled a trip I had planned to Saudi Arabia, but I was unable to [do so] this time. In a video, Messi stated, “I apologies for what I did and I’m waiting to see what the club decides.
Now that a stay at PSG appears uncertain, the Argentine has two primary suitors. One of them is Barcelona FC.
Messi would prefer his football career to end at Barcelona, the team that first saw him when he was just 12 years old and from which leaving once seemed absurd. The Catalans were then caught off guard by financial regulations, which abruptly ended Messi’s tenure with the team in 2021.
Currently, Barcelona is still dealing with serious financial issues and is attempting to bring its greatest son back. The main obstacle will still be La Liga’s financial fair play requirements, though.
Along with a particular Saudi club with significant pockets and perhaps state support.
Simply said, Messi would have the chance to maximise his financial gains in the later stages of his career by joining the Saudi club Al-Hilal.
The issue of capitalising on a competition to the last dredge is another. Even before Ronaldo joined Real Madrid, the celebrity futures of Messi and Ronaldo were interwoven. With Ronaldo now playing for Al-Nassr, the rivalry would continue if Messi moved to Al-Hilal.
Additionally, having Messi and Ronaldo compete in their own domestic league would be a big coup for Saudi Arabia, which hopes to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Messi’s transfer to Al-Hilal is finalised, claims the AFP. Next season, “he will play in Saudi Arabia,” a source informed AFP. “The contract is outstanding. It’s enormous. We are only finishing up a few minor items,” the person continued.
Though Messi’s father (and agent) publicly disputed the claim, rumours persisted.
There are always rumours, and many people use Lionel’s name to acquire recognition, but there is only one truth—we are confident that no agreements have been made. not spoken, not written, no agreements. And it won’t happen until the end of the current campaign, according to Jorge Messi.
The suspicions linking Messi to Al-Hilal have also brought the problem of sportswashing, or how countries use sports to “whitewash” their negative worldwide reputation, back to the fore.
For instance, Saudi Arabia has a dismal record when it comes to upholding human rights and is renowned for its cruel labour practises, suppression of women’s rights, and contempt for civil freedoms and the right to free speech. The US State Department has accused it of being behind the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post, who was assassinated in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.