Though Lionel Messi has held the edge in on-field accomplishments in his career-long battle with Cristiano Ronaldo, the latter has squeaked past the former when it comes to earnings. However, there may be a mega-deal in the works to shake up the ranks of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
A new report claims that Lionel Messi may be offered “the most lucrative salary deal in the history of football.” The Saudi Arabian government wants to bring Messi to its Saudi Pro League this summer, according to the Telegraph. Discussions are underway to determine if the player will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires at the end of June. The potential deal might amount to $400 million annually, which dwarfs what Al Nassr is paying Ronaldo until the summer of 2025.
Saudi Arabia hopes that by landing both Ronaldo and Messi, it will “secure the country’s status as a final-club destination for the world’s biggest names,” according to The Telegraph. Meanwhile, a PSG contract offer has also been offered to Messi that would extend his stay in the French capital for another year.
Recently, Paris Saint-Germain suspended Messi for an unauthorized trip away from the team, according to CNN. That business trip was reportedly to, surprise, Saudi Arabia. The Telegraph reports that prior to the trip, Messi’s “requests to visit Saudi were turned down so when he flew to Riyadh on his private jet it was treated as a breach of his contract.” When he didn’t show up for training on Monday, “PSG wanted to take a stand,” but didn’t release a statement “to avoid inflaming the situation further.”
In 2022, Saudi Arabia hired Messi as a tourism ambassador. Recently, Ahmed Al Khateeb, the Minister of Tourism for the country, tweeted undated photos of the Argentinian. “We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality,” he wrote. Messi himself recently posted on social media about the country. He captioned an image of some trees: “Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can. #visitsaudi.”
The Saudi government and representatives of Messi’s team declined to comment to the Telegraph for the story and Robb Report was unable to immediately contact Messi’s representatives. Paris Saint-Germain has also not released a statement about the new report.