Lionel Messi has pulled out of Inter Miami’s friendly with Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on Thursday, joining career rival Cristiano Ronaldo on the sidelines.
Inter Miami are touring Asia as part of their pre-season preparations and scheduled a two-match stop in Saudi Arabia, with games against Al Hilal and Al Nassr at Kingdom Arena pencilled in.
They were beaten 4-3 by Al Hilal on Monday and global attention turned to Thursday’s clash with Al Nassr in which Messi would meet Ronaldo for potentially the final time in their respective careers.
However, Ronaldo was ruled out of the friendly with a muscle complaint – a problem which saw Al Nassr cancel two recent friendlies in China – and Messi has now also picked up a similar problem and withdrawn from Inter Miami’s squad following an MRI scan.
The legendary duo last met on the pitch in January 2023 when Messi – then of Paris Saint-Germain – beat a Saudi Pro League XI featuring Ronaldo 5-4 in an exhibition match. Messi scored once for PSG and Ronaldo grabbed a brace for his side.
The last competitive meeting between Messi and Ronaldo came in December 2020 when Barcelona were beaten 3-0 by Juventus at Camp Nou in the Champions League group stage – their only matchup after the Portugal international left Real Madrid in 2018. Ronaldo was again on hand to fire in a brace, with both goals coming from the penalty spot.
After Thursday’s game, Inter Miami continue their tour of Asia with a trip to Hong Kong to face a Hong Kong League XI, while Al Nassr return to competitive action in a fortnight against Al-Fayha in the Asian Champions League.