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HomeNewsLionel Messi Chooses Inter Miami: A Spectacular MLS Coup

Lionel Messi Chooses Inter Miami: A Spectacular MLS Coup

Torn between offers from his former club Barcelona and the new Saudi El Dorado, Lionel Messi has opted to join Inter Miami and the North American league (MLS), which makes a spectacular coup with the arrival of the Argentine legend.

“I made the decision to go to Miami. I have not yet closed it 100%, there is still something missing, but we decided to continue the path there,” Messi said Wednesday in an interview with the Catalan newspapers Sport and Mundo Deportivo.

Subsequently, both Inter Miami and Major League Soccer confirmed the signing of the Argentine player through social networks:

“Lionel Messi joins Inter of Miami CF. Welcome to MLS, Lionel Messi!” tweeted the official account of the U.S. championship. The Argentine idol also admitted that he was “not happy” in Paris, where he was recently the target of constant booing by Paris Saint-Germain supporters.

“It was two years in which I was not happy, I did not enjoy myself, and that affected my family life, I missed a lot of my children’s life at school. In Barcelona I went to look for them, here I did it much less, I shared less activities with them. The decision (to go to Miami) is also because of that, to meet again, quote unquote, with my family, with my children, and enjoy the day to day”, explained the star.

After the end of his adventure with PSG, the 35-year-old world champion could choose between three destinations: returning to Barcelona, the team where he was formed and achieved his greatest triumphs, the lure of the Saudi Arabian petrodollars, which have already seduced Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, or the North American league on the other side of the Atlantic.

In the end, it will be in sunny Miami where the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will write the last pages of his extraordinary career, in a franchise owned by David Beckham and American billionaires Jorge and Jose Mas.

The Argentine’s choice, the result of lengthy negotiations conducted on his behalf by his father and agent, Jorge Messi, is a somewhat surprising turn of events given that the Argentine seemed close to signing for a Saudi club.

The kingdom was willing to make a big outlay to lure him and several media outlets pointed to a salary of €400 million per season. Senior Al-Hilal officials even traveled to Paris on Sunday to try to close the deal, according to sources close to the talks.

In early May, a Saudi source close to the negotiations said that the transfer was a “done deal.”

Messi’s last wish, however, was to return to his beloved Barça, whom he was forced to leave in 2021 to join PSG when the Catalan club was unable to keep him for financial reasons that still drag on.

These financial problems again apparently affected the return deal, despite Jorge Messi’s assurances on Monday that this was his son’s preferred option.

However, the Blaugrana board had to wait for the Spanish League to validate its economic viability plan before considering the signing of ‘La Pulga’, which cooled the Messi clan’s spirits.

In the interview to the two Barcelona newspapers, ‘La Pulga’ acknowledged feeling “hurt” about how he left Barcelona in 2021 and regretted not having left the azulgrana club as “he would have deserved”.

As it is, Inter Miami came out on top in the race for the player, despite Messi’s desire to stay in a top league ahead of the 2024 Copa America to be played in the United States.

Unrivaled publicity

To complete the transfer, the Florida State club relied on revenue generated from MLS’ new 10-year, $2.5 billion global broadcast deal with Apple TV+ for the league.

On Tuesday, Apple TV+ announced the upcoming airing of a four-part documentary series looking back at the five World Cups played by Messi.

“La Liga has been very creative. Everything is on the table,” said a source at MLS, whose bid includes contributions from Apple and Adidas, its two biggest commercial partners.

Adidas, a lifetime sponsor of Messi and MLS since its inception in 1996, would have proposed a profit-sharing deal with the sports manufacturer as a result of the Argentine’s involvement with MLS.

Messi’s contract would also include an option that would allow him to buy shares in an MLS franchise at the end of his career in the North American league.

Beckham used the same option to take a stake in Inter Miami after his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy expired.

For MLS, which in recent years has focused on developing and recruiting young players rather than the old glories of its early days, Messi’s arrival is unparalleled publicity.

“I think of him as someone who breaks so many barriers that he may be the most important athlete to ever play here in the United States,” MLS commissioner Don Garber has said.

The presence of Messi, who already owns a home in Miami, would also be an obvious added value to the promotion of the 2026 World Cup, which the United States will co-host with neighbors Canada and Mexico.

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