Jorge Messi, the father and agent of Argentinian superstar Lionel, has refuted the news on Tuesday that the forward will play in Saudi Arabia next season on a “huge” deal.
A source, speaking on condition of anonymity and without naming the club that Messi was rumoured to be joining, told AFP that it was already a “done deal”.
“The contract is exceptional. It’s huge. We are just finalising some small details,” said the source, believed to be someone close to the negotiations.
But just a couple of hours later, Jorge said in a statement: “There’s absolutely nothing agreed with any club for next season.
“We will decide at the end of the season. Nothing is signed, agreed or verbally agreed. Only fake news using Leo’s name.”
Asked about the AFP report, Messi’s current club Paris Saint-Germain simply noted that the 35-year-old remains under contract until June 30.
But a separate PSG source said: “If the club had wanted to renew his contract, it would have been done earlier.”
The 2022 World Cup winner was suspended by Qatari-owned PSG last week for an unauthorised trip to Saudi, where he is a tourism ambassador.
He was seen with his family in what was reported to be a holiday trip in Riyadh.
The Argentinian has since apologised to the club and his teammates in a video posted on Instagram to his 460 million followers.
The “fake” news came a day after Messi was named the Laureus Sportsman of the Year during the awards ceremony in Paris, while sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce bagged the top honour for women.
Messi also received an award on behalf of the Argentina men’s football team, who were named World Team of the Year after their triumph at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had won the award once before, sharing it with British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton in 2020. He also became the first athlete to scoop both the World Sportsman of the Year Award and the World Team of the Year Award in the same year.
Jamaican Fraser-Pryce enjoyed an outstanding 2022, which included winning the 100m gold at the World Athletics Championships.
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, who won the 2022 US Open and rose to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, was named the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year.
Christian Eriksen, who recovered from the cardiac arrest he suffered at the European Championship in 2021 to return to English Premier League football with Brentford and then Manchester United before competing at the 2022 World Cup with Denmark, received the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.