Messi and Ronaldo to meet in friendly between PSG and Saudi select

PARIS: Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain will play a friendly against a select side made up of players from Cristiano Ronaldo’s new club Al Nassr and their Saudi rivals Al Hilal in Riyadh on January 19, the French champions announced on Monday.

Qatar-owned PSG will travel to Doha on January 17 before moving on to the Saudi capital for the match at the King Fahd Stadium which will see Messi and Ronaldo renew their rivalry.

Messi returned to training with PSG last week after being given a fortnight off following Argentina’s World Cup triumph in Qatar in December.

Meanwhile Ronaldo, who will turn 38 in February, recently joined Al Nassr after agreeing a contract that runs until 2025 and is reportedly worth more than 200 million euros ($214m).

His arrival at Al Nassr, who are coached by Frenchman Rudi Garcia, comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to improve the profile of football in the country ahead of a possible joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup along with Greece and Egypt.

Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the sport over the last 15 years, winning the Ballon d’Or 12 times between them.

Their rivalry grew during nine years in which they came up against each other in Spain, when Messi was starring for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid.

Riyadh clubs Al Hilal and Al Nassr are Saudi Arabia’s two most successful sides.

PSG have made a habit of travelling to Qatar in winter since the Gulf state bought the club in 2011.

However, this trip comes despite the Ligue 1 leaders having a French Cup tie scheduled for the weekend of January 21 and 22 against lower-league opponents yet to be determined.

READ: India’s Bumrah ruled out of Sri Lanka ODI series