Saudi Arabia prepare ‘serious’ Messi offer to reignite Ronaldo rivalry

Messi inadvertently proving Ronaldo right at Inter Miami

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could be set for one last dance with a potential loan move to the Saudi Pro League on the cards. Messi has once again been linked to join Saudi Arabia’s soccer league just months after rejecting their advances and moving to MLS franchise Inter Miami.

As arguably the greatest soccer stars of all time, Messi and Ronaldo have won it all. The pair have 12 Ballon d’Or titles between them, numerous Champions League wins and countless individual accolades after almost two decades at soccer’s highest level.

The pair enjoyed nine years together in La Liga during one of the fiercest sporting rivalries in history, despite both players having great admiration for one another. Both stars made for box office viewings week after week with both Real Madrid and Barcelona dominating world football.

The era ended in 2018 when Ronaldo called time on his career in Spain and sought a move to Italian giant Juventus. But much to fans delight the duo could be opponents, or teammates, according to reports in Saudi Arabia.

According to sources from Saudi newspaper Al-Bilad, Messi is once again of interest to a soccer team owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. The report claims that a loan option is being considered which would see Messi and Ronaldo gracing the same fields after almost five years.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund currently owns four soccer clubs which narrows down Messi’s options. The clubs under the PIF ownership are Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, and Al-Ahli.

Either team would see the World Cup winner play among some familiar faces, including Ronaldo at Al-Nassr, Karim Benzema at Al-Ittihad, Neymar at Al-Hilal and Roberto Firmino and Ryad Mahrez at Al-Ahli.

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This wouldn’t be the first time a Saudi Pro League side sought to bring Messi to the ever-expanding league. Following Messi’s departure from Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine was pursued by Al-Hilal which could now see him join former Barcelona and PSG teammate Neymar if he were to move.

The offer at the time, according to COPE journalist Helena Condis, would have seen the 36-year-old earn a staggering €500 million ($522.5 million) per season and over $1 billion on a three-year deal. In comparison, Ronaldo’s salary is a reported $217 million per year, almost $300 million less.

Despite the reports, Messi appears to be in no hurry to leave Inter Miami with the club on the verge of lifting its first trophy. Miami has reached the Leagues Cup final which will see the 36-year-old hope to lift his first piece of silverware against Nashville SC on Saturday evening.

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