Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and his future may lie elsewhere. AFP/CHRISTOF STACHE

Lionel Messi, who is yet to sign an extension with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is reportedly linked with a move away from Europe.

Messi's current contract with PSG is due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 campaign and talks over a new deal between Messi and the Ligue 1 club have been paused. Amid this, the Argentine forward is linked to join arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Pro League.

Jorge, Messi's father and agent, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after the PSG forward was offered a transfer proposal from Al-Hilal, league rivals of Ronaldo's side Al-Nassr, which would put him in the same wage packet as Ronaldo, according to a report in Mirror.

After parting ways with Manchester United on mutual consent two months ago, Ronaldo bagged a lucrative contract from Riyadh-based Al-Nassr and the two-year deal would see the Portuguese forward earn £173 million per year.

Messi's contract details

While Messi's father is demanding a salary of £527 million. Ronaldo's contract is around a quarter of the said amount. However, Al-Hilal, a Saudi Pro League club that is also based out of Riyadh, is preparing to offer Messi the exact same offer as Ronaldo at Al-Nassr, according to football outlet FourFourTwo.

It is understood that Al-Hilal's offer to Messi also contains the same conditions as Ronaldo's, with the contract offer including not only the player's main wage but also their image rights and several contractual responsibilities.

Even though Al-Hilal are currently observing a transfer ban, it is believed that they will be in a position to sign players this summer.

By boosting Messi and Ronaldo, two of the greatest footballers to have played the game, Saudi Arabia is planning to up their game to bag the hosting rights for the 2030 FIFA World Cup. The likes of Egypt, Greece, and Saudi Arabia have confirmed a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup, which could be a winter edition as well like the 2022 tournament due to climate concerns.

Saudi Arabia has begun their work to conquer the football market, starting with the Public Investment Fund of the country taking over Premier League club Newcastle United, their tourism board sponsoring the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, their hosting of the 2023 Club World Cup, and Ronaldo signing for Al Nassr this year.

In addition, Messi is already the ambassador of Saudi Arabia's tourism board. The PSG star is expected to visit Saudi Arabia next month as part of his ambassadorial role for the country's tourism. The Argentina national is paid around £26 million a year for his partnership with the tourism board.

Following a tearful goodbye to his childhood club FC Barcelona in 2021 summer, Messi joined PSG on a two-year contract in a free transfer. He had a difficult first season at Parc des Princes, but he has scored 18 goals and 17 assists in 31 matches for PSG in the underway campaign in all competitions.

Messi's PSG future in doubt

While Messi has expressed being happy and settled in his new life in Paris, his future in the French capital is now in serious doubt with PSG stalling contract talks as they want to avoid any punishment by going against UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP). PSG were one of 10 clubs fined for breaching FFP last year.

On the other hand, Messi is also being linked with a return to his first club Barcelona. Messi left the Catalan club abruptly in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, and did not get a chance to say goodbye to his loyal supporters.

The 35-year-old forward made his senior debut with Barcelona during the 2004-05 season and ended his career with the Camp Nou side with 672 goals and 303 assists in 778 competitive matches. He helped them win many trophies, including 10 La Liga and four Champions League titles.