Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Karim BenzemaGetty/GOAL

Newcastle owners could work with Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi & Karim Benzema as Saudi Public Investment Fund acquire stakes in Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal & Al-Ittihad

  • PIF calling the shots at St James' Park
  • Acquired 75 per cent stakes in Pro League clubs
  • Superstar performers linked with summer moves

WHAT HAPPENED? That is because they have acquired stakes in four Saudi clubs – including the Al-Nassr outfit that Portuguese legend Ronaldo currently plays for and the Al-Hilal side that are being heavily linked with a move for seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi. PIF have also taken a 75 per cent stake in Al-Ittihad – the Saudi Pro League title winners who are in the process of putting a deal in place for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Newcastle’s owners, who have helped the Magpies to a top-four finish in the Premier League and Champions League qualification, insist their latest venture is not a multi-ownership model as each club in their portfolio will have an independent board and a separate executive management team.

AND WHAT'S MORE: Saudi clubs have previously been run by the nation’s Ministry of Sport, but they are now being privatised and governing bodies such as FIFA and UEFA are becoming more open to multi-ownership agreements as long as they do not involve sides taking part in the same competition.

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Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr 2022-23 Getty Images

Lionel Messi PSG 2022-23Getty Images

WHAT NEXT The Middle East, with the vast riches on offer there, is becoming more appealing as a landing spot for leading names in world football – with Ronaldo working on the most lucrative contract on the planet at Al-Nassr, while there is plenty of speculation to suggest that he will soon be joined in Saudi Arabia by a number of other established stars.