Lionel Messi has revealed his decision to reject a record contract offer from Al-Hilal in favour of a move to Inter Miami, aiming a subtle dig at Cristiano Ronaldo in the process.
Messi agreed to join David Beckham’s MLS franchise after leaving PSG, snubbing a highly lucrative move to Saudi Arabia and a return to former club Barcelona in the process.
The 35-year-old attacker had been widely expected to become the latest big name footballer to head the Saudi Pro League.
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Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in the January transfer window after leaving Manchester United, while Karim Benzema has signed with Al-Ittihad.
N’Golo Kante, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Ramos have also been heavily linked with big money moves to Saudi teams.
Despite having close ties to Saudi Arabia through his role as a tourism ambassador, which got him in trouble towards the end of his PSG stint, Messi decided to snub a reported £321m per year contract offer to join Al-Hilal.
In an interview with Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo discussing his decision to join Inter Miami, Messi spoke on rejecting Al-Hilal and Barcelona and appeared to aim a dig at big name footballers like Ronaldo who accepted huge deals to play in Saudi Arabia.
“The truth is that economics were never a problem for me or an obstacle at all,” Messi insisted. “We never even got to talk about a contract [with Barcelona].
“A proposal was passed over, but never a formal, written, signed proposal, because there was still nothing and we did not know if it was going to be possible or not. There was the intention, but we couldn’t advance anything, we didn’t even talk about money formally.
“If it had been a matter of money I would have gone to [Saudi] Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me and the truth is that my decision went another way and not for money.”
Messi also discussed his time at PSG, conceding he was “not happy” in Paris and that the move “affected my family life”.
He explained: “These were two years [PSG] in which I was not happy. I did not enjoy myself, and that affected my family life, I missed a lot of my children’s lives at school.”