Al-Hilal boss tight-lipped as fans clamour for Messi move

football13 May 2023 11:40| © Reuters
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Lionel Messi © Getty Images

Al-Hilal president Fahd Bin Nafel refused to comment on the possibility of signing Lionel Messi, insisting his Saudi Arabian side is "more important than just one player", as fans clamour for the World Cup winner.

"Don't ask me about Messi," Bin Nafel told reporters when asked after Al-Hilal's victory in the King's Cup final in Jeddah on Friday about the Argentine superstar's transfer rumours.

"I will not tell you any news. If anything comes out from our media centre, you will get it."

In another interview on the pitch, as the crowd shouted "Messi, Messi", Bin Nafel said: "The group is more important to me than a player. Any star who comes to our club should know that we are a big club. We aim to improve (the team)… If you focus on one person, you lose the group."

Al-Hilal have been coached by former Argentinian international striker Ramon Diaz since February 2022, after a first stint at the Riyadh-based team between October 2016 and February 2018.

After two unexceptional years at Paris Saint-Germain, the rich oil kingdom of the Gulf offers an "enormous" financial opportunity for the 35-year-old Messi, a source close to the negotiations told AFP on Tuesday in Riyadh.

The deal would mean the record seven-time Ballon d'Or winner potentially joins his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi league as the Gulf state lavishes its oil wealth on sport.