After transfer dig, Lionel Messi partially agrees with Cristiano Ronaldo.
After transfer dig, Lionel Messi partially agrees with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi admits he nearly followed Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia, but he disagrees that the Middle Eastern league is superior than MLS.

Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr late last year after leaving Manchester United after an explosive Piers Morgan interview. Both the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and his Portuguese colleagues had a poor World Cup in Qatar.

“The Saudi league is much better than the United States,” Ronaldo said reporters after playing the first half of Al-Nassr’s 5-0 friendly loss to Celta Vigo.

After leaving Paris Saint-Germain, 36-year-old World Cup winner Messi joined David Beckham’s Inter Miami in the summer. Messi chose MLS over a billion pounds from a Saudi team and a return to Barcelona.

“The truth is that fortunately, I had several interesting options on the table, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” Messi told Time after winning Time’s 2023 Athlete of the Year.

“My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible.” Later, I considered visiting the Saudi League, a country I am familiar with and which has a strong competition that could become significant in the future. As the country’s tourism ambassador, I was drawn to the destination due to its growing football scene and efforts to create a top competition.

He won his eighth Ballon d'Or this year, three more than Ronaldo.
He won his eighth Ballon d’Or this year, three more than Ronaldo.

In Miami, Messi was immediately noticeable. He has 11 goals and five assists in 14 games for the MLS team that won the Leagues Cup and nearly made the playoffs. The end of October saw him earn his eighth Ballon d’Or, becoming the first active MLS player to do so. Messi’s name attracted Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, and it will continue to do so.

“The people who know me really well laughed,” admits managerial owner Jorge Mas. People who didn’t know me were respectful. They turned and said, ‘This is well out of his league.’”

Mas said: “My biggest message to him was, ‘Listen, seldom times in history has one uber-athlete altered a nation’s sport. «You have the opportunity to alter the sport in the largest commercial market in the world, the US.»

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