Lionel Messi’s representatives have rubbished rumors that the Argentine has agreed to join a club in Saudi Arabia after his contract at Paris Saint-Germain ends on June 30.
Crediting an unnamed source, AFP reported Tuesday that Messi playing in Saudi Arabia next year was a “done deal.”
However, Messi’s team told CNN Sport that such claims were false and that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would not make a decision on his future until after the Ligue 1 season is over.
Later on Tuesday, Messi’s father, Jorge, released a statement on his Instagram Stories reaffirming that the 35-year-old’s future had not been decided.
“There’s absolutely no agreement with any club for next year. The decision will never be made before Lionel finishes the league with PSG,” the statement read.
“Once the season is over, it will be the time to analyze and see what’s there and then making a decision.
“There will always be rumors and a lot of people use Lionel’s name to gain notoriety but there is only one truth and we can assure that there is nothing with anyone. Not verbal, not written, not agreed and there won’t be until the season has finished.”
It comes amid growing reports of the apparent breakdown of Messi’s relationship with PSG – something highlighted by fans booing the Argentine during a match in March.
He was recently suspended by PSG for two weeks after leaving France to attend promotional events in Saudi Arabia; the unauthorized trip meant he missed a training session.
“I’d already had this trip planned, which I’d canceled previously, and this one I couldn’t cancel,” Messi, who has started training again with the team, said in an Instagram story last week.
“To repeat, I want to apologize for what I did and I await what the club decides.”
Whether he stays in Paris or looks elsewhere, Messi says he’ll keep playing as long as he’s still enjoying his career.
“Football is something that I have loved and enjoyed since I was a child,” Messi told Laureus co-host and CNN Sport anchor Amanda Davies, after being named World Sportsman of the Year at the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday.
“I love playing it and I love everyday life. It was my whole life to be able to enjoy what I like and I’m just looking for that: to keep enjoying, to keep playing, which is what always made me happy.
“As long as that’s the case, I’ll keep doing it.”
Messi also accepted the Team of the Year award on behalf of Argentina on Monday, following the side’s epic World Cup victory last year.
After a disappointing loss against Saudi Arabia in Argentina’s opening game, Messi was in mesmerizing form throughout the rest of the tournament in Qatar and scored two goals in arguably the greatest World Cup final in history.
Despite Argentina dominating the game for large periods, France’s Kylian Mbappé inspired a comeback with the game eventually being decided by a penalty shootout.
“The truth is that we had a lot of confidence in ourselves before the World Cup,” Messi said, adding that the current national team has something “special.”
“Although it started difficult because of the first defeat, we never stopped believing, dreaming, and when we were in that final, we were very confident that we were going to win.
“In fact, we had 80 minutes being much better than France, and in 10 minutes, the game was complicated for us.
“The whole team never fell down, it responded again, and that’s because of the strength and mentality that the group had in that World Cup.”
The World Cup was the only trophy that had eluded Messi up until that point and winning it further cemented himself as arguably the greatest player in history.
“It’s a very special moment in my career, in my life, and there’s always a time to remember that moment of that World Cup which we enjoyed a lot for a month,” Messi said.
“There are always nice memories left and it’s going to be for life.”
Messi on being the GOAT
But Messi, who had previously retired from international football in 2016 before “luckily” reversing his decision, says being regarded as the greatest ever has never been important to him personally.
“It wasn’t a thought I had throughout my career either, nor was I looking for that,” he said.
“I never played soccer for that. But obviously, I am grateful that people think that way.”