Saudi Arabian football club Al Hilal are reported to be preparing a monster €220 million ($240 million) offer for Lionel Messi which would see him match generational rival Cristiano Ronaldo in earnings.
The fact that the Argentine’s father and agent Jorge Messi has been in the Kingdom this week has set tongues wagging, though his meeting is said to have been for commercial reasons with son Lionel fronting a Saudi tourism campaign.
But just over two months since Mundo Deportivo reported that the club was preparing a $350 million a year offer for him, MARCA says that Al Hilal are ready to test Messi’s resolve with a proposal that will pay him “exactly the same as the one made to Cristiano Ronaldo and that managed to convince” the Portuguese to sign for rival outfit Al-Nassr.
This figure is around €220 million ($240 million) per season and is said to pay Ronaldo not just for his footballing expertise, but also to “become the image” of Saudi Arabia and its sporting aspirations.
Messi has already done this to some extent, but boasting the best two footballers since the late 2000s would be a huge coup for the Kingdom as it plans to bid for the right to host the 2030 World Cup.
The country’s politicians are said to be willing to change salary cap laws in order to make the huge signing happen and played their part in Ronaldo choosing Al-Nassr as his next destination when he and Manchester United terminated their agreement by mutual consent earlier this season.
Al-Hilal are sanctioned by FIFA until the summer, but this wouldn’t be a problem as Messi’s contract with Paris Saint Germain doesn’t expire until June 30.
Messi would be expected to sign for Al-Hilal for at least a year compared to Ronaldo’s two-and-a-half years, with this potential move endangering Messi’s possible return to FC Barcelona.
Mired in debts with €200 million ($214 million) to eliminate from their wage bill on the orders of La Liga president Javier Tebas, Barca simply can’t compete with these numbers when it comes to Messi’s salary.
In recent weeks, it has been reported that president Joan Laporta made a “final offer” to Jorge and Lionel Messi which would see him paid a minimum €200,000 ($214,000) annual salary and then the proceeds from a farewell match expected to bring in €100 million ($107 million).
Accepting the rumored offer from Al-Hilal would put Messi in good stride to top Forbes’ list of the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players ahead of 2022 winner and PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe.
As is common for the sport’s top prizes and accolades, however, he would face competition from Ronaldo considering his own take home pay at Al-Nassr and off-field endorsements.