The Saudi Arabian government are hopeful that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will join their domestic league.
Ronaldo ended his relationship with Manchester United by mutual consent this week, following his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan. However, the list of clubs who could sign the Portuguese superstar, despite being a free agent, is not a lengthy one.
Paris Saint-Germain are among the clubs to rule themselves out of the running alongside Bayern Munich, while Ronaldo's former club Sporting Lisbon have also distanced themselves from making a move. Real Madrid – where the striker is the all-time club record scorer – also have no interest in a sensational return for Ronaldo.
That may open the door for a move to Saudi Arabia for Ronaldo, although Messi’s circumstances are different. Despite initially failing to live up to his billing following his high-profile switch to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona a year ago, the Argentine is now hitting top form for his club.
Messi had been unhappy in Paris but has now reiterated he has fully settled in the city and the club, where he looks to extend his stay. However, the 35-year-old is an ambassador for the Saudi Arabian tourist board – so a switch to the Gulf state may not come as a huge shock.
Ronaldo is already a free agent following his Old Trafford exit and Messi may be in a similar situation at the end of the season. His contract in the French capital expires in June and there is no indication as yet over whether he will renew at the Parc des Princes or seek pastures new.
Saudi Arabian Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has now spoken publicly about the nation’s ambitions to bring both superstars into their domestic game. "Who wouldn't want him to play in their league?" Prince Abdulaziz told Sky News. "He's a role model to a lot of young players - him and Messi."
Prince Abdulaziz added of Messi’s tourism advertising deal with the nation, which was struck a year ago: "That's benefited a lot in terms of tourism for the kingdom. If they can, I'd love to see them both play in the Saudi league."
Saudi Arabia is currently enjoying its spot in the football limelight following their sensational opening game victory over Argentina at the World Cup – giving the Middle Eastern nation a chance of progression through to the knockout stage.