Al Ittihad ‘lining up huge contract offer for Messi

Saudi Arabian outfit Al Ittihad are report­edly determined to sign Lionel Messi on a free transfer.

The forward’s con­tract at Paris Saint-Germain is due to expire at the end of June, and there has been a host of speculation surrounding his future since the 2022 World Cup.

Barcelona are believed to be working to re-sign the Argentina international, while Inter Miami are interested in the 35-year-old, as recently confirmed by the MLS club’s head coach, Phil Neville.

“I’m not going to deny [it and say] there isn’t truth in the specu­lation that we’re interested in Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets,” Neville told The Times.

However, according to journalist, Joan Fontes, there is also significant interest from Saudi Arabia in the shape of Al Ittihad, with the club prepared to offer him a huge contract.

Fontes claims that Al Ittihad are willing to offer Messi a two-year contract worth £78m a year, which is significantly more than he would earn by remaining in European football or moving to the MLS.

Messi has featured on 28 occa­sions for PSG during the 2022-23 campaign, scoring 17 goals and con­tributing 16 assists in the process.

Earlier this year, the French champions were believed to be confident of signing the forward to a new deal, but a recent report claimed that he was now leaning away from re­maining at the club.

A return to Barce­lona remains a pos­sibility, although the Catalan outfit still have huge financial problems, which led to Messi leaving Camp Nou in the summer of 2021.

Barcelona boss, Xavi, recently said that ‘the doors are open’ for his former teammate to return to the club.

“For Messi, this is his home, he has the doors open. He is a friend and we are in permanent contact. His return depends on him,” the Catalan side’s head coach told reporters.

Since arriving at PSG, Messi has represented the French side on 62 occasions in all competitions, scoring 28 goals and contributing 31 assists in the process.

Al Ittihad are currently managed by former Wolverhampton Wander­ers and Tottenham Hotspur head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, while they are second in their domestic table, two points behind leaders Al-Nassr, who recently signed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi played a leading role in Argentina win­ning the 2022 World Cup, scoring seven times and regis­tering three assists at the competi­tion in Qatar. —Reuters

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