Messi and former Spanish coach Enrique are close to seal deal with Al-Hilal

May 09, 2023
Messi will consider £320m-a-year mega deal from the Riyadh club when he leaves PSG this summer
Messi will consider £320m-a-year mega deal from the Riyadh club when he leaves PSG this summer

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal is close to seal a deal with former Spanish and Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, Saudi daily Okaz reported.

The move coincides with a historic deal the club is most likely to clinch with football legend Lionel Messi, the captain of world champions Argentina, according to well-informed sources.

Messi will consider £320m-a-year mega deal from the Riyadh club when he leaves PSG this summer. His old Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are also possibly heading to Middle East, according to a report published by the Daily Mail. Messi will concentrate on PSG for now and make a decision in the summer, the British newspaper reported.

Enrique is one of the major options of Al-Hilal to pick as its coach. He is one of the coaches who achieved Barcelona under Messi’s five-year captaincy. Messi is considered as the first and most preferred choice for Al-Hilal to sign a deal with during the coming summer. Messi’s mission is to bring Al-Hilal back to the top of the Saudi Professional League and re-establish it as a dominant force in the continental Asian football.

The offer from Al-Hilal worth around $400 million (£320 million) a year has been on the table for over a month; yet he is in no rush to accept it. Instead Messi is concentrating on the season’s finale with Paris Saint-Germain, despite his current two-week suspension, as he wants to end the campaign with the French league title.

Messi’s father Jorge Horatio Messi has already informed PSG he does not wish to accept their offer for another year’s contract as he remains unconvinced about their sporting project. Barcelona and Inter Miami hold strong interest but in Barca’s case they have yet to clear the financial hurdles necessary to bring their former idol back to the Camp Nou stadium.

Okaz indicated last month that Jorge, father and business agent of Messi, had inspected the residence in Riyadh, in preparation for arranging accommodation for his son in the Saudi capital.

Messi is already a tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia. It was an unauthorized visit to Riyadh last week that hastened his exit from the PSG. Messi, wife Antonela Roccuzzo and children Ciro and Mateo were photographed enjoying attractions in the capital Riyadh and Diriyah during their visit.

PSG’s players had a scheduled day off on Monday but following their 3-1 defeat to Lorient the previous day, manager Christophe Galtier ordered them in for extra training. Messi, however, was already in transit to Saudi Arabia and wasn’t able to turn back.

Because the trip was not sanctioned by Galtier, nor by sporting director Luis Campos, PSG suspended Messi for 15 days and also docked some of his wages. On Friday, Messi apologized in a social media message to the club and his teammates for missing the training session. “I thought we were going to have a day off after the game as always. I had this trip organized and I couldn’t cancel it. I had already canceled it before... I apologize to my teammates and I’m waiting for what the club wants to do with me,” Messi began in the 39-second clip shared onto his Instagram story.

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