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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Argentina legend Messi seriously considered Saudi Arabia switch –

Lionel Messi considered the option of moving to the Saudi Pro League before completing his switch to Inter Miami in July.

The Argentine superstar, 36, was heavily linked with Al-Hilal, who eventually added his former Paris Saint-Germain colleague Neymar to their ranks during the summer. 

Messi opted to continue his playing career in Major League Soccer — but only after he realised a return to Barcelona was off the table.

The World Cup winner told Time: “The truth is I had several options on the table that were interesting.

“I had to analyse them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami.

“My first option was to return to Barcelona but it was not possible. I tried to return and it did not happen.”

Lionel Messi won his eighth Ballon d’Or in October

He added: “It is also true that later I was thinking a lot about going to the Saudi league, where I know the country. They have created a very powerful competition that can become an important league in the near future.

“As the country’s tourism ambassador, it was a destination that attracted me, especially because I’ve enjoyed everything I have visited, because of how football is growing in the country and because of the effort they are putting into creating a top competition.

“It was Saudi Arabia or MLS and both options seemed very interesting to me.”

Despite spurning the opportunity to play against eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Middle East, Messi proved to be an instant hit in Miami.

He scored 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup matches as the Florida-based outfit lifted the trophy.

But Gerardo Martino’s side missed out on a spot in the MLS play-offs, with their next competitive match set to take place when the 2024 season kicks off in February.

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