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Lionel Messi to Saudi Arabia - A Game-Changing Transfer?

Salem Badughaish & Roger Hampel


Football fans in Saudi Arabia are abuzz with excitement at the possibility of superstar Lionel Messi joining the nation's Pro League! After it was announced that he would visit the kingdom this month for a third time in less than a year, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al Khatib, said that the Argentine would visit KSA on holiday.

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Tourism took to Twitter to express his joy at welcoming Messi and his family and friends, saying, "I am happy to welcome our Tourism Ambassador and star Lionel Messi and his family and friends this month on his second visit to Saudi to enjoy our most beautiful tourism destinations, connect with our people and enjoy unique experiences."

Last year, Messi was appointed Saudi Arabia's tourism ambassador and he visited Jeddah in May before returning in January to play a friendly match with PSG against a team of Saudi League stars, where he faced rival Cristiano Ronaldo. This recent planned visit has reignited speculation about Messi joining the Saudi Pro League after Ronaldo's lucrative Al Nassr deal last year - reportedly worth more than 200 million euros over 2 1/2 years. Local media reported that Al Hilal and Al Ittihad have expressed interest in signing the Argentine. The Saudi sports website reported that Al Hilal had already made him a huge offer to join once his contract with PSG ends in June.

Messi vs. Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia. Source:

The rumors of Messi's move to the Saudi Pro League became more tangible when Spanish journalist Marcal Lorente from "El Chiringuito" reported that Messi has accepted an offer from Al-Hilal, one of the biggest clubs in the Saudi Pro League. This news has only heightened the excitement among Saudi fans who are eager to see Messi in action in their domestic league.

Messi's potential move to Al-Hilal could be a game-changing development for Saudi football, with local clubs reportedly willing to offer Messi a whopping $234 million a season. This potential move would not only be a significant financial windfall for Messi but would also significantly boost the profile of the Saudi Pro League, potentially making it a more attractive destination for other top-tier players.

Adding to the intrigue, Messi's father and agent, Jorge Messi, has arrived in Saudi ahead of his son's visit, sparking further speculation about the potential transfer. Moreover, Al-Hilal seems keen to create a comfortable environment for Messi, even considering bringing two of his closest friends, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, to the team. Both players have a long-standing relationship with Messi from their time at FC Barcelona.

As Messi's current contract with PSG ends in June, the future of the football legend remains a hot topic of discussion. Despite rumors of a potential return to FC Barcelona, Messi's financial expectations and the club's financial problems make the move to Al-Hilal a more likely scenario.

However, Messi's move to Saudi Arabia is not without its challenges. Gerard Romero, a journalist with strong ties to Barcelona, has reported that Messi's main concerns about moving to Saudi Arabia are cultural issues and the impact on his family. It remains to be seen how these issues will be addressed if the transfer goes ahead.

In conclusion, Lionel Messi's potential move to the Saudi Pro League, specifically to Al-Hilal, represents a significant turning point for the league and the sport in the region. The move, if it goes ahead, will undoubtedly be a major draw for football fans in Saudi Arabia and across the world, further elevating the global profile of Saudi football. Stay tuned to the Football Business Journal for more exclusive insights on this evolving story.


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