Former Barcelona Forward, Lionel Messi, was linked to a transfer to Saudi Arabia in the past, but he resisted and instead joined Inter Miami
Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, has shed light on the circumstances surrounding his departure from Al-Hilal, revealing that the club’s pursuit of Lionel Messi played a role in his contract not being renewed, Soccernet.ng reports.
During this summer’s transfer window, strong rumours linked Messi to the Saudi Professional League, which was predicted would lead to the exit of the Nigerian forward.
While a return to his boyhood club, Barcelona, was also speculated, Messi ultimately surprised the footballing world by choosing a move to Major League Soccer (MLS) and joining Inter Miami.
In an exclusive interview with sports journalist Oma Akatugba, the former Manchester United forward disclosed that Al-Hilal’s interest in signing the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner affected his contract situation.
Ighalo expressed surprise that Messi did not move to Saudi Arabia, as the financial offer he was rumoured to receive there was reportedly astonishing, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary.
“I’m shocked Messi didn’t go to Saudi Arabia because it was part of why my contract was not being extended. I thought it was a done deal,” Ighalo explained.
The opportunity to sign Messi was apparently a major factor for Al-Hilal, leading them not to offer a new deal to Ighalo.
He added: “The money they were offering him in Saudi [Arabia] was crazy. He was going to earn twice what [Cristiano] Ronaldo was earning. I was shocked he didn’t go there. He chose Miami,”
Messi’s decision to join Inter Miami brought an unexpected twist to the transfer market and while it affected Ighalo’s time at Al-Hilal, the Nigerian striker remains optimistic and ready for new opportunities on the footballing horizon.