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Saudi Spectacle: Messi’s Mega-Million Deal Sets New Record

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PARIS, France – Argentine soccer legend Lionel Messi is reportedly set to join the Saudi Pro League next season, after agreeing to a “huge” contract, according to an insider familiar with the negotiations.

“The contract is exceptional. It’s huge. We are just finalizing some small details,” the unnamed source told AFP on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. The individual, who is not authorized to speak to the media, also noted that the deal has been largely facilitated by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PIF, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds with over $620 billion in assets.

Messi’s current club, Paris Saint-Germain, PSG, confirmed that the player’s contract runs until June 30. A separate source within the club added that “if the club had wanted to renew his contract, it would have been done earlier.”

Last week, Messi, 35, was suspended by Qatari-owned PSG for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia, where he serves as a tourism ambassador.

His anticipated move to the oil-rich kingdom follows that of his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr in January under a colossal deal worth more than 400 million euros ($439 million). According to Forbes, Ronaldo’s agreement makes him the world’s highest-paid athlete.

The anonymous source also explained that the negotiations for Messi’s deal took less time than those for Ronaldo, stating, “As we now know the recipe to contract world-class players.”

They emphasized that it is Saudi Arabia, not a specific club, that has played a central role in securing Messi’s services: “The money comes from one place — PIF.”

Despite the fanfare surrounding Ronaldo’s arrival in the Saudi Pro League, his presence has not translated into on-field success for Al Nassr.

The team has lost its position at the top of the league table and has been eliminated from both the King’s Cup and Super Cup competitions. Furthermore, French coach Rudi Garcia left the club in April.

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