Lionel Messi's future is the biggest telenovela coming from the transfer rumor machinery these days, with several sources claiming the Argentine star has secured a gargantuan contract with Saudi side Al-Hilal. I mean, you can go out there on that thing called the internet and you'll be swarmed with "done deal" headlines.
But is it really done?
Messi's two-year agreement with PSG ends June 30 and it seems nobody is interested in renewing it. Especially after the whole debacle originated from a Messi non-authorized trip to Saudi Arabia, for which the player had to apologize publicly before being punished.
So, where does he go now? The idea of seeing him return to Barcelona has produced a good chunk of speculation, but lately, all signs seem to point to Al-Hilal.
Is Lionel Messi going to Saudi Arabia? Here is what we know
AFP says it is a "done deal"
Several organizations have claimed that Messi going to Al-Hilal is a fact, being the French news agency AFP the most reliable of all those sources (sorry, El Chiringuito, but you don't deserve that distinction).
OK, AFP says the offer came from an "unnamed club," but their anonymous source told the contract is ironed and needs a few tweaks before being announced.
⚽La star du Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi, jouera en Arabie saoudite la saison prochaine, a affirmé à l'#AFP une source saoudienne proche des négociations, qualifiant le contrat d'"énorme" 1/2 pic.twitter.com/ncLb21IXUW— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) May 9, 2023
"Messi is a done deal. He will play in Saudi Arabia next season," he said. "The contract is exceptional. It's huge. We are just finalizing some small details."
The offer is astronomical
The stories around a Messi move to Al-Hilal have been swirling for a few good months as a way to shadow Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Al-Nassr. And since the beginning, those rumors have stated that the offer to snatch him is irresistible, with some saying he will have a salary of $450 million per season. Some other reports even say that amount could go up to $650 million.
Leo Messi wants to win the Ligue1 then assess his options at the end of the season — no decision now. ✨◉ Al Hilal €400m/season bid on the table since April but nothing agreed yet;
◉ Barça insisting — not easy due to Financial Fair Play.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 8, 2023
But wait, Messi's dad says there is no agreement
After AFP broke the news about a "done deal" between the player and Al-Hilal, Jorge Messi, father and agent of the Argentine star, published a message on social media denying those reports.
"There's absolutely nothing agreed with any club for next season. We will not decide anything until Leo ends his campaign with PSG," he said. "Nothing is signed or verbally agreed until the season ends."
Jorge Messi has issued a statement confirming nothing is agreed between Lionel Messi and any club and that a decision will be taken only at the end of the season. “There is nothing with anyone neither verbal, signed or agreed…” pic.twitter.com/dzlZQMEVmE— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) May 9, 2023
Of course, this doesn't say Messi will not play for Al-Hilal. It just says nothing has been signed and that we will see.
Messi's wife wants to stay in Europe
But then we have a strong voice in Messi's inner circle pushing against the move: his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo. According to people close to the family, she is not very into the Saudi lifestyle and would prefer to stay in Europe, hopefully in Barcelona, where they have a house and several friends.
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The rumor says she even registered their kids, Mateo, Ciro and Theo, in a local school.
Where are we going to see Messi next year? Just wait until June 30 or the first days of July and you will know. The rest is music.