(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 6:54 AM
Argentina's World Cup hero Lionel Messi has reportedly rejected an offer to renew his contract at Paris-Saint Germain, sparking fresh rumours of a move to Saudi Arabia.
The Argentina captain, who left Barcelona for PSG in 2021, was expected to sign a new deal at the Paris club after he finally ended his wait for a World Cup trophy with Argentina.
But the 35-year-old superstar has apparently changed his mind now and would seek a new challenge at the end of his two-year contract at PSG this summer.
Messi's reluctance to remain in Paris has now offered a chance to Saudi Football Federation to make a move, having already stunned the world by bringing Cristiano Ronaldo, the Argentine's great rival, to Al Nassr club.
If the Saudi football authorities succeed in bringing the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to their top level club competitions, it will be the new chapter in the storied rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo, two of the greatest players the world has ever seen.
Ibrahim Alkassim, General Secretary of the Saudi Football Federation, said he would be delighted to welcome the Argentina icon to Saudi Arabia.
“At the moment we do not know anything about a possible Lionel Messi arrival. Although I do not hide that, as Saudi Federation, we would like to have him one day in the domestic league,” Alkassim was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca.
“The idea of the Federation is always to improve our football, and of course, we would like to see Cristiano and Messi in the same league again, but the truth is that we don't know anything now.”
According to reports in Europe, Al Hilal, the arch-rivals of Ronaldo's new club Al Nassr, could make an attempt to sign the former Barcelona player.
But Messi is not devoid of options. His former club Barcelona, Manchester City and even Inter Miami, the American club co-owned by David Beckham, have been linked with a move for the Argentine.
Messi was the fulcrum of the Argentina team with seven goals and three assists in the Qatar World Cup.
The little magician has also scored eight goals for PSG, playing his part in the Parisians' dominance in the French league this season.
But PSG have not given up hope and they are expected to make a second offer to keep Messi at the club.
If they fail to convince Messi, clubs around the world are expected to be in an intense battle for his signature.
The Rosario-born footballer might also be tempted by the prospect of rejoining his former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
So what will be Messi's next step?
Football fans now will be eagerly waiting to see if he remains in Europe or decides to start a new journey in Saudi Arabia.
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