During a public interview, Lionel Messi, the globally acclaimed Argentine footballer, reveals why he had chosen not to join Saudi Arabia’s football club, instead pledging to join Inter Miami.
Some observers have interpreted this decision as a subtle critique of his enduring rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, the Portuguese football dynamo, astounded fans earlier this year when he signed a deal with Saudi team Al-Nassr, setting a new record for the highest-paying contract in football history.
Ronaldo’s lucrative move prompted other high-profile footballers to consider offers from Saudi Pro League clubs. One notable example is Karim Benzema, a Ballon d’Or-winning striker, who recently left Real Madrid for Al-Ittihad.
Nevertheless, Messi has charted his own course. He opted to prolong his illustrious career in the United States with Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Inter Miami, following his decision not to renew his contract with Paris Saint-Germain.
“I made the decision to go to Miami. The decision isn’t completely finalized yet as there are still some details to work out, but we’ve decided to continue my journey there,” Messi stated in an interview with Spanish outlets SPORT and Mundo Deportivo.
This announcement serves to dispel recent rumours about Messi’s potential return to Barcelona or a possible lucrative contract in the Middle East.
It also follows Messi’s recent triumph as the World Cup’s Golden Ball winner and his instrumental role in propelling Argentina to World Cup victory last December.
Messi’s decision to pass on a potential €500 million (£435m/$541m) deal illustrates that personal priorities take precedence over financial motivations.
“The truth is that economics were never an issue for me or an impediment…If it had been about money, I would have moved to Arabia or elsewhere,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo.
“While the amount offered was substantial, my decision was based on different factors and not on financial considerations.”
Ronaldo’s transition to Saudi Arabia, which followed his departure from Premier League giant Manchester United, starkly contrasts Messi’s decision.
Even with seven Ballon d’Or titles compared to Ronaldo’s five, Messi’s choices appear to be driven more by the pursuit of a balanced family life and sustained high-level competition than by hefty contracts.
While Saudi clubs are predicted to finalize additional high-profile signings this summer, including potential transfers of N’Golo Kante and Sergio Ramos to Middle Eastern clubs, Messi will embark on a new chapter of his football career in the United States.
His move, scheduled for early July, is a testament to the enduring allure of the American dream.