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Lionel Messi will be offered the same wage packet as Cristiano Ronaldo by Saudi Arabia this summer after Paris Saint-Germain paused his contract extension talks.

Ronaldo completed a stunning move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr in January and will earn in the region of £173million per year. That is – by a distance – the highest wage in football, which includes image rights and commercial commitments. Al-Nassr’s Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal are now preparing an offer for his long-term Argentine rival.

Messi joined PSG on a two-year contract in the summer of 2021 – with his deal up for renewal in June.

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After a difficult debut campaign in Paris, he has netted 18 goals and provided 19 assists this season and has spoken of his happiness at adapting to life in France this term.

However, PSG were one of 10 clubs fined for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules for the 2020-21 season. They were fined €10million with a further €45m suspended alongside Champions League sanctions should they fail to comply with FFP going forwards – a very real threat should they not reduce their outgoings.

That has put a pause on negotiations with Messi, with Al-Hilal – who are currently serving a transfer ban – now eyeing a sensational summer move. As per a report in Marca, they are already putting the financial package together for signing the Argentine.

It is claimed that Saudi Arabia would be prepared to change their laws in order to permit the 35-year-old’s arrival this year. Such a move would pit Messi against Ronaldo in the Middle Eastern nation’s capital – reminiscent of their El Clasico rivalry between 2009 and 2018.

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The Argentine has been linked with a return to Barcelona but he has been refusing to answer phone calls made on behalf of a negotiator close to Joan Laporta, who is desperate for the Argentine star to return to the Camp Nou but his negotiating tactic has so far proven unsuccessful.

Messi appears to have entirely ended his relations with Laporta, whom he feels misled him over his future two summers ago – with the club unable to offer him a contract extension at the Camp Nou, and the Argentine was only aware of this situation in August – when he then uplifted his life by moving to Paris.

The two’s separations were also evident at the recent FIFA The Best awards in the French capital when Messi scooped the Men’s Best Player of 2022 award. He did not speak to Laporta at all during the event after the Barca president had assured his attendance.

Source: The Mirror