Does the double boom come with the CR7?
For Messi, Saudi Arabia exceeds all salary limits
01/12/2023, 9:08 PM
Saudi football is looking for the next world football star. According to a report, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprise move to the desert state, the next Saudi club are planning the big transfer move. Target: Lionel Messi.
Saudi Arabia is a country of superlatives. Silver, oil fields, recently also sports washing. So now Cristiano Ronaldo is bringing glamor and his reputation as a giant to the country’s second-tier professional league. The clubless Portuguese, who were presented last week with a bizarre display of disturbing personality cult, hero-worship and plenty of self-centeredness, will now play for club Riyad Al-Nassr. Now the capital’s big league contender Al-Hilal apparently doesn’t want to sit idly by.
As the always well-informed Spanish newspaper ‘Mundo Deportivo’ reports, Al-Hilal wants to make an offer to new soccer world champion Lionel Messi, currently with luxury club Paris St. Germain, funded by Saudi rival Qatar, who securing Ronaldo’s record deal would once again be on top. The club reportedly offer the Argentine $300m (around €280m) – per year. Ronaldo, on the other hand, earns ‘only’ 200 million euros a year. Already a record. But without superlatives it is difficult in Saudi Arabia and with the two greatest footballers of the last two decades.
Messi shines even after World Cup triumph
But can Messi really be lured into the desert like Ronaldo? The thing is, his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer. An extension has been in the air for days, and offers from the American MLS, notably Inter Miami, have reportedly been pouring into Messi’s camp. According to media reports, his parent club FC Barcelona are also interested. And the striker, who has proven very convincing as a leader at the World Cup, would probably still find a place at a top address in Europe, unlike Ronaldo.
Especially since he doesn’t fall into a post-World Cup hangover after the long-awaited triumph in Qatar: In PSG’s first game after Lusail’s moment of glory, Messi started where he left off. was stopped during the Desert World Cup – and targeted the next big one on it. He led his team to a 2-0 (1-0) against SCO Angers, and the 35-year-old started his comeback goal himself. A quick passing combination between three Parisian players completely overturned the opposing defence, Messi nonchalantly hitting the bottom left corner to score the final score. “He is in great shape and very relaxed. With Leo, the team has another face,” Paris coach Christophe Galtier said. ‘Sacre Messi’ – ‘Saint Messi’ was the headline of sports newspaper ‘L’Equipe’ and ‘Le Parisien’ spoke of a ‘first-class comeback’. But the league is not his claim, Messi wants the pot handle again.
So Saudi Arabia seems crazy at first glance. Alone: That’s what Ronaldo did at the start. Messi already has good contacts in the kingdom, signed an agreement with the tourism authority and promotes ‘Visit Saudi’, for which he is supposed to collect millions. The wires are there. So it’s a good thing that PSG and Messi are in Riyadh next week playing against a squad that will also include Ronaldo.
2018 last set in a league
The next giant transfer would make sense, especially for Saudi Arabia. Because the country wants to host the World Cup in 2030 with Egypt and Greece. Even the publicity effect hoped for by Ronaldo should be significant, but even more blatant with the “double boom” made up of the two legends. Incidentally, in his native country, Ronaldo has already been insulted by the media as a ‘traitor’. Portugal also want to compete with Spain and Ukraine to host the 2030 World Cup. As with Ronaldo, the money for Messi would likely come mainly from state coffers. The sovereign wealth fund PIF would have actively supported the CR7 coup.
At his current employer, Messi is paid by another desert country, which has been heavily criticized for its handling of human rights. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has sponsored PSG for years. Qatari PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi is hoping for an extension. A jump from his superstar would be a blow for him, especially since Saudi Arabia have seen Qatar as a competitor for years and even officially blocked it. During the 2022 World Cup in the Emirate, the tensions were no longer noticeable.
For Messi, it would be the first league meeting with Ronaldo since 2018, when Messi played for FC Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid. It is therefore normal that the duel between the current leaders Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal, third (three points behind and one game ahead), is considered the Saudi Clásico. Messi and Ronaldo in the Saudi Clásico – so crazy it seems realistic again – in the land of superlatives.
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