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Breaking: Messi seals huge deal, moves to Saudi Arabia

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Argentine superstar Lionel Messi will play in Saudi Arabia next season under a “huge” deal, a source close to the negotiations told AFP on Tuesday.

“The contract is exceptional. It’s huge. We are just finalising some small details,” added the source, who is not authorised to speak to media.

Asked about the comments, Messi’s current club Paris Saint-Germain simply noted he remains under contract until June 30.

A separate PSG source said: “If the club had wanted to renew his contract, it would have been done earlier.”

The 35-year-old World Cup winner was suspended by Qatari-owned PSG last week for an unauthorised trip to Saudi, where he is a tourism ambassador.

Messi’s expected arrival in the oil-rich kingdom follows in the footsteps of his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr in a massive deal in January.

Ronaldo’s agreement to June 2025 is said to total more than 400 million euros ($439million), making him the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes.

Both deals are being bankrolled by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds with more than $620 billion in assets, the source said.

“The negotiations didn’t take as much time as the ones with Ronaldo. As we now know the recipe to contract world-class players,” said the source.

“It’s Saudi Arabia that brought him not a specific club. The Money comes from one place — PIF.”

Ronaldo’s arrival has not had the impact Al Nassr would have hoped for on the pitch.

They have lost top spot in the Saudi Pro League table and are out of the running in the King’s Cup and Super Cup.

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Messi, who turns 36 in June, has had two lacklustre seasons in Paris after a glorious era at Barcelona where he won four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles, and is still worshipped by the fans.

The record seven-time world player of the year, joining a mouth-watering attack featuring Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, scored just 11 goals in his first season as he helped PSG to a routine Ligue 1 title.

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