Report: Lionel Messi ready for extraordinary move to Saudi Arabia – to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Winner's Trophy on Sergio 'Kun' Aguero's shoulders after the team's victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.
(Image credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi could be about to leave Europe for a stint in the Middle East – playing against long-time frenemy, Cristiano Ronaldo.

That's the incredible claim coming from El Chiringuito (opens in new tab), who say that the World Cup winner has not "ruled out" the opportunity to make the move. Messi has linked up with Saudi Arabia in the past (opens in new tab), courting controversy to become an ambassador for the Gulf State. 

With the Middle Eastern nation planning things in football, it seems as if the No.10 could join Ronaldo to become the centrepiece of a new project.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for PSG against Marseille in Ligue 1 in February 2023.

Lionel Messi is approaching the end of his PSG contract (Image credit: Getty Images)

Egypt, Greece, and Saudi Arabia have confirmed a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup, which like the 2022 edition of the tournament, could well be staged during the winter, due to climate concerns. 

Many have labelled the bid part of a larger football sportswashing campaign, however, which has already seen the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia take over Newcastle United, their tourism board sponsoring the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, their hosting of the 2023 Club World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo signing for Al Nassr this year. 

There is, however, the obstacle that Saudi Arabia is a member of the AFC. The rotation of the World Cup prevents nations in the Asian federation from hosting World Cup until 2034. 

Messi's father is, according to El Chiringuito demanding a salary of €600 million from Al-Hilal in order to join the side. Ronaldo is said to be earning a quarter of that (opens in new tab)

Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Al-Nassr on his debut in the Saudi Pro league.

Messi could earn far more than Cristiano Ronaldo if he joins him in the Middle East (Image credit: Getty Images)

The future of Paris Saint-Germain star Messi is still up in the air with his contract set to expire in the summer. Barcelona are said to be keen on bringing him back to Camp Nou for a homecoming, while Major League Soccer could launch their own bid.

Messi is still valued at €50m by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab)

Recently, Lionel Messi won the best men's player at Best FIFA Awards 2022, while the Flea surpassed the 700-goal mark for his career this season, too. 

It's been revealed that Messi helped end his Argentina cup curse through tarot cards and that the iconic photo of Messi lifting the World Cup did in fact feature a replica. Inter Miami have confirmed interest in the star, though PSG are working on a new contract. He could even appear at the 2026 World Cup, according to a team-mate. 

Diego Maradona's former team-mate Bernd Schuster, meanwhile, has claimed he reckons Maradona would have been better than Messi, had he played in the modern day. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.