The iconic rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo that dominated European soccer for the best part of a decade may be revived in the Middle East – with Saudi Arabian chiefs desperate to reunite the pair in the Pro League.
After Inter Miami failed to qualify for the Major League Soccer playoffs, Messi will not take the field again until February following the completion of the regular season – unless he secures a short-term loan elsewhere.
And according to Sky Sports, via Marca, Saudi Pro League officials are set to launch an offer for Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain in the wake of Miami’s playoff heartbreak.
It is believed they are keen to lure him away from the MLS on a six-month loan, meaning he would be able to return to Inter in time for their 2024 campaign.
Internal evaluations are understood to be ongoing, with news on a potential swoop for Messi expected to come soon.
The iconic rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may be revived in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Pro League are said to be considering a loan offer for Messi after Inter Miami failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs
Old rival Ronaldo has spent the last 10 months in the Middle East after signing for Al-Nassr
Before his historic move to Miami, Messi turned down an eye-watering financial package to play in Saudi, which would have brought him at least $400million.
Great rival Ronaldo opted to accept the country’s riches, putting pen to paper on a $200m-a-year contract with Pro League team Al-Nassr at the start of the year.
Messi and Ronaldo enjoyed a historic battle on European shores during their respective stints with Barcelona and Real Madrid, with the pair maintaining a stranglehold on the illustrious Ballon d’Or award from 2008-18.
Between them, the legendary duo have won nine Champions League titles while scoring close to 1,500 goals at club level.
And now Saudi have dreams of reigniting that iconic rivalry out in the Middle East.
Back in 2009, Miami co-owner David Beckham made the kind of move Saudi are plotting for Messi when he was loaned from the LA Galaxy to AC Milan.
Messi has also been linked with a loan move back to Barcelona as a result of Miami being unable to qualify for the postseason.
Miami’s manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino recently tried to downplay the links of Messi returning to his former club on loan when he recently said to reporters: ‘Is he going for fun? Maybe he’s going to visit Barcelona? Other than that, I don’t know anything else about it.’
Messi has scored 12 goals in the combined 13 league and cup matches he played since joining Miami on a two-and-a-half-year deal in July.
Messi, who is currently on international duty with Argentina, has also been linked with a return to former club Barcelona
Miami coach Tata Martino joked at the weekend that he could return to Spain ‘for fun’
He has joi ned Argentina for 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru on October 12 and 17 respectively.
With Miami’s season ending soon, Argentina must figure out how to maintain Messi’s fitness for World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay on November 16 and at Brazil five days later.
Miami’s remaining league matches will be a home and road set against Charlotte October 18 and 21.