Lionel Messi's father and agent Jorge Messi has denied reports that his son has agreed to sign a deal to play in Saudi Arabia next season.
AFP reported earlier on Tuesday that Messi was moving to Saudi Arabia, where he already serves as a tourism ambassador, with one source describing the situation as a “done deal”. The report did not specify which team Messi would play for, but Al-Hilal, the most successful team in the Saudi Pro league, is widely rumored as the landing spot.
Messi is under contract with his current club Paris Saint-Germain until June 30.
“There is absolutely no agreement with any club for next year,” George wrote on his Instagram story, adding that no decision will be made until after his son finishes the season with PSG.
He also took the opportunity to rebuke certain sections of the media for believing the rumors to be true.
There were previous reports that the Saudi government had offered Messi more than $400 million a year to play for one of their teams, with Al-Hilal itself not involved in the negotiations. Any such deal would reunite Messi with his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is currently on a record contract for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League.
Where will Lionel Messi play next season?
As it currently stands, Messi has three possible destinations for next season. PSG is not one of them, as both club and players appear comfortable with burning that bridge.
First and foremost, obviously, is Saudi Arabia. Whether Messi actually has a deal or not, it is clear that the oil state with enormous financial resources is negotiating. Messi's signing would be the latest surge in the country's efforts to get the sport on the world stage to end its atrocious human rights record, an effort that has already been seen in Ronaldo, the LIV golf tour, a Formula 1 grand prix and several boxing matches. Already happened. Horse racing.
Messi has spent the past two years playing for another club backed by oil money, as PSG is owned by the Qatar sovereign wealth fund.
Another contender could be the united states' MLS, which has landed an internationally renowned soccer star with David Beckham. In that case, the league went all-out with a deal that gave Beckham his own team, Inter Miami. A similar effort would be required to bring in Messi.
And then there's Messi's old flame, FC Barcelona, who have Allegedly The offensive has been to reunite with its greatest player of all time. With UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules in place, it can't hope to match Saudi's reported offer, but there's always the possibility that Messi matters more than money here.