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Home / MLS

Lionel Messi joins Inter Miami in record-breaking MLS deal

In a stunning announcement that shook the world of sports, soccer superstar Lionel Messi revealed on Wednesday that he has agreed to play for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. The Argentine, who led his country to a World Cup victory in December, said in an exclusive interview with Spanish publication Diario Sport that he decided on Miami because “it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way.”

The financial details of Messi’s contract with Inter Miami were not immediately available. However, he reportedly made $41 million in base salary from a two-year deal with French giant Paris Saint-Germain, which he signed in 2021. It was speculated that Messi would extend his contract with PSG, but those negotiations fell apart last month.

Reports indicated that Messi was offered more lucrative deals by Saudi Arabia and Barcelona, where he played for the first 18 years of his professional career. However, the soccer star opted to join Inter Miami, the MLS team owned by former Galaxy standout David Beckham, who became the first major European star to play in the league when he came to Los Angeles in 2007.

Although expansion fees have skyrocketed since Beckham’s arrival, with potential owners in San Diego agreeing to a reported $500 million to join the league last month, Inter Miami has yet to make a significant impact in the MLS. Messi’s signing could change that, as he joins the team that is currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, just days removed from the firing of coach Phil Neville, who was hand-picked by Beckham two years ago.

One of the co-owners of Inter Miami, Jorge Mas, tweeted out a photo of a darkly silhouetted Messi jersey shortly before the Argentinian great revealed his decision in interviews with Spanish news outlets Mundo Deportivo and Sport. The announcement captured attention worldwide, with fans and analysts alike wondering how the star striker would fare in the MLS.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, four-time Champions League winner, and World Cup champion has nothing left to prove in the game. However, he fills the only significant unchecked box on his resume by coming to the MLS. Some of the game’s biggest names, including Pele, Thierry Henry and Beckham himself, have come to the U.S. toward the end of their careers. But landing a player who is still near the pinnacle of his game and just a few months removed from hoisting a World Cup trophy is simply enormous.

Apple, which broadcasts MLS games on its fledgling TV streaming service, may also benefit greatly from Messi’s arrival. The terms of Messi’s deal with Inter Miami reportedly include an option for part-ownership of the team, as well as a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming service.

It remains to be seen when Messi will make his debut in an Inter Miami jersey, but many soccer fans are already eagerly anticipating his arrival. According to sources, his first fixture with the team could be on July 21 during the Leagues Cup game against Cruz Azul. Demand for tickets to Inter Miami matches has reportedly surged since Wednesday’s announcement, with prices rising dramatically for many upcoming games.

Messi acknowledged that he “wanted” to return to Barcelona, but the club’s financial situation made that reunion impossible. Instead, he will embark on a new chapter in his career in the MLS and play for a Miami team that has yet to realize its full potential. The move is a bold one for Messi, but it could pay off in a big way for him and for soccer in America.

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