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Lionel Messi may team up with Odion Ighalo in Saudi Arabia




If on-going speculations are anything to go by, Super Eagles’ former hit-man, Odion Ighalo may play in the same team with the legendary Lionel Messi at the Al-Hilal.

Speculations are rife that Lionel Messi’s father who is also the player’s agent, Jorge Messi, is in Riyadh  for talks with Al-Hilal about the possibility of his son joining the Saudi club on a staggering £245m-a-year contract.

Messi’s PSG are due in Saudi Arabia for a friendly match against Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the football space in the past 15 years and it appears that the rivalry may shift to Saudi Arabia, who appears are taking cue from Qatar to use football as public relations tool.

According to a report by UK’s Daily Mail, it has emerged that Al Hilal, which Ighalo plays for, are keen to bring Messi when his contract expires at PSG in June.


Like it happened to Cameroon’s captain, Vincent Aboubakar when Ronaldo was brought in by Al Nassr, it is hoped the Ighalo would not be sacrificed for Messi at Al Hilal.

Ighalo at the moment is one of the seven foreign players at Al Hilal.

“They would be willing to pay him $300m-a-year (£245m) to get a deal over the line”, according to Mundo Deportivo., a Spanish news outlet.  

Nasser Al-Attiyah, a relative of the Emir of Qatar, has further fuelled speculation that he will move to the Middle East after reportedly stating: ‘Messi, his next club after his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, will be Saudi Arabia.

Al-Hilal are currently banned from adding players until the next transfer window, but they want Messi to sign now ahead of a potential move in the summer.


Messi’s father has arrived in the Saudi capital to discuss the proposed move, as reported by The New Arab

, which would see Messi renew his on-pitch rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ronaldo joined fellow Saudi side Al-Nassr last month and will receive £175m per year during his time with the club.

Should Messi accept Al-Hilal’s proposal, he will earn significantly more than Ronaldo and also get the chance to play against his great nemesis once more.

Messi and Ronaldo enjoyed a historic rivalry while competing against each other for Barcelona and Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018, when they established themselves as the two best players on the planet.


Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr appeared to have signalled the end of their rivalry, but Messi could now follow him to Saudi.

Clashes between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal are considered Saudi’s equivalent of El Clasico, and seeing Messi and Ronaldo on opposite sides would only add extra spice to the occasion.

The legendary paid could also play against one another when PSG travel to Riyadh to take on an All-Star XI featuring players from Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal on January 19.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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