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Paris Saint Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi reacts during the French L1 match against Stade Rennais FC at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Lionel Messi’s contract with Paris Saint Germain is set to expire at the end of the season, bringing him closer to becoming a free agent.

Negotiations for a new deal have been ongoing, with reports in December suggesting a verbal agreement had been reached for an extension.

However, recent doubts have arisen as to whether Messi, 35, will remain in France beyond this season.

There are reports that he is considering returning to Barcelona, with L’Equipe claiming that PSG are now uncertain about renewing his contract.

Booed by fans

This uncertainty may be linked to the weekend’s incident where Messi was targeted by PSG supporters who jeered and whistled at him during the Ligue 1 match against Rennes which PSG lost 2-0.

After the game, Messi headed straight to the tunnel and did not join his teammates in clapping and apologizing to the fans.

The club’s supporters’ reaction may have played a role in PSG’s decision-making process.

With yet another disappointing campaign in Europe, PSG are reportedly contemplating their next steps as they looks to build for the next phase of their project.

Barcelona, on the other hand, are said to be keen on re-signing their former captain should he decide to leave PSG.

However, the club’s financial situation, as governed by Financial Fair Play regulations, may limit their ability to bring him back.

Therefore, it looks increasingly likely that the Argentina World Cup winner could move to Saudi Arabia and play for Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal.

If he does move to Saudi Arabia then he would resume his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo who joined Al Nassr this year after the Portuguese international had his contract terminated by Manchester United.

The famous rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo was formed largely during the nine seasons they spent battling each other for La Liga supremacy in Spain between 2009 and 2018.

They have not been based in the same country as each other since Ronaldo left Real Madrid nearly five years ago.

2030 World Cup

38-year-old Ronaldo took the bold step to play in the Middle East when he signed a mega-money deal with Al Nassr and Messi could follow suit.

Al Hilal would be willing to break the bank to sign Messi and it s rumoured they would offer him a staggering £245 million-a-year deal.

That would dwarf Ronaldo’s £177 million per year pay contract with Al Nassr.

Saudi Arabia is bidding to host the 2030 World Cup and getting Messi on board as an ambassador is something the country would dearly love.

For years, Messi and Ronaldo battled it out to be crowned the best player on the planet when they played for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

They could be set to renew football’s greatest rivalry once again in front of a brand new audience.