Messi’s father dismisses Saudi links

Messi’s father dismisses Saudi links

PARIS: Lionel Messi has not “signed or agreed” a deal to play in Saudi Arabia next season, the Argentine’s father and agent said after reports on Tuesday linked the Paris St Germain forward with a move to the Middle East.

Messi’s future at PSG has been the subject of much speculation in recent days after the Ligue 1 side suspended him for making a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is a tourism ambassador, and missing a training session as a result.

The Argentina captain is out of contract with PSG in June and an anonymous source close to negotiations told AFP that it was “a done deal” that he would follow former Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi league, adding that the 35-year-old was in the process of finalising details before signing a contract.

However Jorge Messi said his son would only make a decision over his future at the end of the season.

“There is absolutely nothing with any club for next year. The decision will never be made before Lionel finishes the league [season] with PSG,” Messi’s father Jorge said in a statement on Instagram.

“Once the season is over, it will be time to analyse and see what’s out there and then make a decision. There are always rumours and many use Lionel’s name to gain notoriety, but the truth is only one and we can assure you that there is nothing agreed with anyone. Neither verbal, nor signed nor agreed. And there won’t be until the end of the season.”

Messi, who apologised to PSG and his team-mates last week, returned to training on Monday.

A source close to Argentina’s captain told Reuters that he had received a formal offer to join the Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal next season, with a contract renewal at PSG not on the cards for the World Cup winner, who turns 36 next month.

The oil-rich nation appointed Messi its tourism ambassador last year and he visited Jeddah in May 2022.

He returned in January to play a friendly match with PSG against a team of Saudi League stars, when he faced his great rival Ronaldo.

Ronaldo joined Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr in January on a massive deal until 2025, said to total more than 400 million euros ($439 million).

Former Barcelona striker Messi joined PSG in 2021 but is under fire from supporters after the club were eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16 for a second season running.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner led Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar in December, the crowning glory of his career.