Lionel Messi Discloses How Close He Was to Joining Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Before MLS Move

Lionel Messi Discloses How Close He Was to Joining Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Before MLS Move

Fred Kennedy
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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  • Lionel Messi was widely linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League after he quit PSG
  • Al-Hilal are understood to have offered him a lucrative deal to seal the transfer
  • However, the forward eventually opted to move to the MLS with Inter Miami

Lionel Messi has admitted he was close to linking up with rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League before he finally moved to the Major League Soccer.

The Argentine superstar became the subject of intense transfer speculation after he quit Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season upon the expiry of his contract with the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015 at the Kongresshaus. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015 at the Kongresshaus. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein.
Source: Getty Images

Messi was widely linked with a possible switch to the Saudi top flight, while an emotional return to Barcelona was also mooted.

According to CNBC, the 36-year-old was offered a highly lucrative offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal but spurned the offer to join Inter Miami instead.

Messi officially signed for the Florida-based club in July, penning a three-year contract to end the speculation that surrounded his football future.

Messi speaks on his failed Saudi move

The Barcelona legend has now come out to disclose how close he was to moving to Saudi Arabia in a transfer that could have seen him renew his football rivalry with Al-Nassr star Ronaldo.

According to Messi, a move to the Saudi Pro League was on the cards, as well as a possible reunion with Barcelona.

However, when it became apparent that he could not rejoin Barca, he was left with two options in the shape of MLS and the SPL.

"My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible," Messi told TIME.
"It is also true that later I was thinking a lot about going to the Saudi league, where I know the country and they have created a very powerful competition that can become an important league in the near future. It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me," he added.

Inside Cristiano Ronaldo's famous museum

Sports Brief also reported that Ronaldo has won plenty of individual awards and trophies, and despite moving to Saudi Arabia, he remains one of football's biggest stars.

Recently, Ronaldo visited the CR7 Signature Museum in the city of Riyadh, while Museu CR7 in the Portugal captain's home city of Funchal has been open since 2013.

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Fred Kennedy
Fred Kennedy has a Bachelor's degree in journalism (Daystar University), currently working as a Sports Editor. He has more than five years of experience in digital journalism.