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SOCCER

When could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face each other again?

Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain could face an All-Star team made up of players from Saudi Pro League clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.

París (Francia)Update:
Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain could face an All-Star team made up of players from Saudi Pro League clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.

Just when you thought it was over, it turns out that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could have ‘one last dance’ to put an end a rivalry that has been ongoing for more than a decade. On Friday, the Portuguese signed for Al-Nassr, a Saudi Pro League team that will pay him a staggering €400 million over the next two seasons. Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are planning a short training camp in the Arabian Peninsula in mid-January and the prospect of the two coming face to face one last time is very much on the table.

When could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo play against each other again?

The Parisian side had wanted to play a game in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, in January 2022 but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to cancel their tour. With travelling now again a possibility, it has been reported by journalist Ben Ayad that the tour could take place in 2023 and if it does, would include a match - potentially on 19 Januarybetween PSG and an All-Star team made up of the best players from Al-Hilal and Ronaldo’s new club Al-Nassr.

Messi, who would be expected to be involved as he is due to return to training with his club on Tuesday, could therefore write the last chapter of his long-standing rivalry with his old foe when we were all least expecting it. The newly-crowned World Cup winner will return to competitive action on 11 January, when PSG take on Angers at the Parc des Princes, and would then travel with the rest of the roster to Saudi Arabia. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi is keen to expand the PSG brand in the Middle East after making several trips to Qatar in recent years to promote the country ahead of the World Cup, during which he has received significant sponsorship revenue.

It remains to be seen whether Cristiano Ronaldo would be available for the potential match, although he should make his debut for Al-Nassr in mid-January. Hosting a “Messi vs Ronaldo” match-up would once again give Saudi Arabia huge exposure through soccer, on the back of that it has received in recent weeks as a result of the World Cup. The Middle Eastern country is one of the candidates to host the 2030 World Cup, while the national team came tantalisingly close to reaching the last 16 in the 2022 tournament after beating Messi’s Argentina in their opening World Cup game.