Lionel Messi confirmed to visit Saudi Arabia for a THIRD time in less than a year as a tourism ambassador… but it fuels excitement over a potential move to the state with his PSG contract up this summer
- Lionel Messi’s first visit came last May in his new ambassadorial role for the state
- He arrived again in January to take part in a friendly featuring Cristiano Ronaldo
- Messi’s contract is up at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer as talks continue
Saudi excitement at the possibility Lionel Messi joining the nation’s Pro League has swelled after it was announced he would visit the kingdom for a third time in less than a year later this month.
The Argentine, who completed a glittering career resume last year by lifting the World Cup in Qatar, will visit for a holiday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib said.
‘I am happy to welcome our Tourism Ambassador… and his family and friends this month… to enjoy our most beautiful tourism destinations, connect with our people and enjoy unique experiences!’ Al-Khatib said on Twitter.
The news came hours before the exit of Messi’s French club Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League on Wednesday.
The oil-rich nation appointed Messi its tourism ambassador last year, and he visited Jeddah in May, before returning in January to play a friendly match with PSG against a team of Saudi League stars, when he faced great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi will make his third trip to Saudi Arabia in less than a year it has been confirmed
Messi previously arrived in January to take part in a friendly along with Cristiano Ronaldo
His latest visit fuels speculation he could be set for a move to Saudi Arabia this summer
Ronaldo’s deal with Saudi club Al-Nassr sealed last year – widely reported to be worth more than €200million (£178m) over two-and-a-half years – led to rumours of a renewed rivalry with Messi in the Saudi League, after local media reported Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad’s interest in signing the world champion.
The Saudi Sport website reported on Wednesday that Al-Hilal had already made him a ‘huge offer’ to join once his contract with PSG ends in June.
Al-Ittihad fans chanted Messi’s name in a local match on Friday, and club president Anmar Al-Haeli referred to a Messi deal in a video last week, saying ‘God willing. The deal needs time and arrangement.’
Ramon Diaz, coach of Al-Hilal, told reporters last month: ‘The presence of Ronaldo makes us believe that Messi may come to Saudi Arabia as well. Saudi football is growing significantly and seems capable of attracting the biggest players.’
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