- Barca return looking unlikely
- Al-Hilal hope to announce Messi by June 6
- Saudi side finished third, 23 points off top
WHAT HAPPENED? Earlier this week, Barca boss Xavi insisted that a return to Catalonia for his old team-mate Lionel Messi "depended 99 per cent" on the Argentina international. However, the club's precarious finances are also a huge stumbling block, and it's looking increasingly unlikely that Messi will be back at Barca any time soon. In the midst of that news, Saudi club Al-Hilal have become a frontrunner in the race to sign him, with SPORT reporting that the club intend to announce his signing on June 6.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Numerous clubs have been linked with the World Cup winner since his departure from Paris Saint-Germain was confirmed, with MLS side Inter Miami rumoured to be interested in signing the 35-year-old Argentina legend. But Saudi Pro League sides are now regularly competing for the signatures of world-class players, and Al-Hilal have had their sights on Messi for a while. Despite being the league's most successful club, their 2022-23 campaign was extremely disappointing, so don't be surprised if they splash the cash this summer to try and turn things around.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Al-Hilal's rumoured move for Messi would make him the highest-paid player in the world, with SPORT reporting that he could be offered €400 million ($429m) per season, double that of Cristiano Ronaldo's whopping €200m ($215m) salary at Al-Nassr. To emphasise the significance of this potential signing, Al-Hilal have reputedly set up a global news echo to ensure the transfer announcement goes far and wide as soon as Messi gives it the go ahead.
IN THREE PHOTOS:GettyHilal TwitterGetty Images
WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? It seems as though this all comes down to Messi himself - according to the Saudi club, everything is in place, and all he has to do is say yes. Even with the assistance of MLS side Inter Miami, that dream Barca return looks set to fall through yet again. Al-Hilal have set Tuesday, June 6, as the date they need to receive the player's final decision so that they can announce the signing - watch this space.