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‘As long as he’s happy’, Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni unconcerned about Lionel Messi moves

British media also reported a deal worth up to £522 million (S$874.2 milion) is on the table, which will eclipse the more than €400 million (S$582.1 million) his rival Cristiano Ronaldo earned when he joined fellow Saudi side Al Nassr in January.

The oil-rich nation appointed Messi as a tourism ambassador in 2022 and he visited Jeddah in the same year.

He returned in January to play a friendly match with PSG against a Saudi All Stars team, which included Ronaldo. REUTERS, AFP

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach Lionel Scaloni has said that he does not care where his captain Lionel Messi plays his club football, as long as he feels comfortable and happy.

Messi’s future at French giants Paris Saint-Germain has been the subject of much speculation over the last week after the Qatari-owned club suspended him for taking a holiday trip to Saudi Arabia and missing a training session.

French media on Tuesday reported that a move to an unnamed Saudi club was a “done deal”, adding that the 35-year-old was in the process of finalising details before signing a contract.

Messi’s father, Jorge, however, quickly denied any agreement had been reached and said that no decisions would be made until the end of the current season, when Messi will be out of contract.

“Let him go to where he will feel comfortable with his teammates and the club’s fans,” Scaloni told Qatar’s Al-Kass channel.

“The matter does not affect us as a national team as long as he’s happy when he joins us and we need him to be happy.”

The coach also backed Messi to win the 2023 Ballon d’Or, the prestigious accolade that the forward has won seven times and will be awarded again in October.

Argentina won their third World Cup title in Qatar in December largely thanks to Messi, who scored seven goals and had 10 goal contributions at the global showpiece.

He was also the first player to score at least one goal in each of the four rounds of a single World Cup knockout stage.

“We still have time to see the Ballon d’Or,” Scaloni said.

“But I would definitely give it to Messi. We’ll see who gets it.”

Messi, who has apologised to PSG and his teammates for his unauthorised trip to Saudi, returned to training on Monday, but his future remains very much in question.

A source close to him told Reuters that he had received a formal offer to join Saudi club Al Hilal next season, with a contract renewal at PSG not on the cards for the World Cup winner.