TORONTO – July 18, 2023 – In what is being deemed a monumental sporting move already igniting the hearts of fans across North America, seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and World Cup Champion, Lionel Messi has officially graced the sandy shores of Miami as he joins the Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks. The Argentine superstar, who will occupy a Designated Player slot, is expected to join the team in the coming days, and his contract will run through the 2025 Major League Soccer (MLS) season.
The news has sent waves of anticipation throughout the entire soccer community, with the spotlight shining brightly on Miami as arguably the Greatest Of All Time, Lionel Messi prepares to showcase his unrivalled talent on the hallowed grounds of North American soccer.
“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” said Messi. “This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”
“I am honored to welcome Leo Messi and his family to their new home,” said Inter Miami CF Managing Owner, Jorge Mas. “In 2018, we made a promise to build an ambitious club that would attract the world’s elite players. A club that would transform the global view of fútbol in the United States and ensure that wherever fútbol is discussed, your Inter Miami is part of the conversation. A heartfelt thank you to our fans that never stopped believing. Together we will continue to turn dreams into reality.”
“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city. Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much,” said Co-Owner, David Beckham. “Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”
Messi’s big move to MLS
Messi has signed a contract through the end of the 2025 MLS season, with an option for the 2026 season. Inter Miami will pay Messi between $50-$60 million per year. Additionally, Messi could possibly be targeting the 2026 World Cup in the U.S. as the finish to his career, which a four-year contract would potentially run through.
Additionally, both Apple and Adidas, plus possibly Fanatics, are helping sweeten the deal. Apple have offered a share of revenue from MLS Season Pass subscriptions, and Adidas have also offered an arrangement for a profit-sharing agreement which will involve Messi receiving a share of increase in profits from Messi’s move.
“We are overjoyed that the greatest player in the world chose Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer, and his decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our League and our sport in North America,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We have no doubt that Lionel will show the world that MLS can be a League of Choice for the best players in the game. We look forward to seeing his debut for Inter Miami in our Leagues Cup tournament later this month.”
When will Messi commence playing for Inter Miami CF
Messi will first be available for selection for Inter Miami CF when they take on LIGA MX side, Cruz Azul in the July 21 opening match of Leagues Cup, a new North American soccer tournament in which MLS and LIGA MX will pause their respective league seasons from July 21 to August 19 to determine the three clubs that will qualify for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. All 47 first division clubs in Canada, Mexico and the US will compete in the World Cup-style, official Concacaf tournament.
When will Messi first play against Toronto FC
The excitement and anticipation extends beyond the sandy beaches of Florida, as Canadian fans eagerly await the opportunity to witness Messi’s genius firsthand. Inter Miami have already played Toronto at BMO in March, with TFC winning 2-0, so Toronto fans will have to wait until next season before he runs onto the pitch at Toronto’s iconic BMO Field. The stage is set for an unforgettable clash of titans, as Toronto fans will be gearing up to welcome the maestro himself in what promises to be an unforgettable occasion in the annals of North American soccer history. But TFC fans can watch their team in action against soccer’s GOAT if they want to travel Miami to catch the match on September 30.
Beckham lays the foundation
The first superstar European soccer player to lace up for the MSL was David Beckham. Beckham’s arrival at the LA Galaxy in 2007 marked a significant turning point for soccer in North America and left an indelible impact on the sport worldwide. Beckham, with his stellar career and global stardom, brought immense attention and legitimacy to Major League Soccer (MLS) and revolutionized the way soccer was perceived in the United States.
Furthermore, Beckham’s influence was felt globally. His decision to join the LA Galaxy created a domino effect, with other high-profile players, both established and rising stars, following suit and joining MLS teams. This influx of talent raised the level of competition within the league and enhanced its overall quality. It also opened doors for international exhibitions and tournaments, attracting top European clubs to face off against MLS teams and engaging a wider audience.
Beckham’s unwavering dedication to the sport has kept him deeply involved with Major League Soccer (MLS). Now, he assumes multiple roles as an ambassador, owner, and advocate, championing the rapid growth of soccer in North America.
From the Pitch to the Front Office
In the realm of ownership, Beckham stands tall as the face of the esteemed Inter Miami ownership group. His celebrity status and global recognition have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in solidifying the team’s identity. Accompanying him are two local Miami entrepreneurs, Jorge Mas and his brother Jose Mas, serving as majority owners. Together, this trio forms a powerful alliance, with plans to steer Inter Miami towards greatness.
It’s Time to Get Messi
Fast forward almost seventeen years and the world of sports finds itself on the precipice of another monumental transition, once again capturing headlines. This time, it is soccer’s golden boy, Lionel Messi, who, following a sensational World Cup performance, is leaving Europe behind. He turned down billions of dollars from a Saudi Arabian team to chase the American Dream. Just like Beckham and Gretzky, soccer’s most electrifying player has signed with MLS’s Inter Miami, co-owned ironically by none other than the great David Beckham himself, heralding a new era in the game.
Messi’s Impact and Influence
Lionel Messi’s soccer career is nothing short of extraordinary. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, the seven time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi has achieved numerous records, accolades, and a level of consistency that is unparalleled.
Here is an overview of Messi’s remarkable journey in the world of soccer:
Messi’s soccer journey began at an early age in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. Recognizing his immense talent, he joined the prestigious FC Barcelona youth academy, La Masia, at the age of 13. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his first-team debut for Barcelona in 2004, at just 17 years old. His electrifying dribbling, exceptional ball control, and precise finishing ability were evident from the start. Messi’s success with Barcelona has been truly remarkable. Throughout his tenure at the club, he has played an integral role in leading Barcelona to numerous domestic and international titles. With Barcelona, Messi has won an astonishing 10 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey titles, and 4 UEFA Champions League titles. His partnership with players like Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez formed the backbone of one of the most dominant teams in soccer history.
Messi’s individual achievements are staggering. He has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award (now The Best FIFA Men’s Player award) a record-breaking seven times, cementing his status as the best player in the world. He has also been the top scorer in numerous seasons of both La Liga and the Champions League, consistently breaking goal-scoring records along the way. Messi’s goal-scoring prowess is legendary. He holds the record for the most goals scored in a calendar year, with an astonishing 91 goals in 2012.
Additionally, he became the all-time leading scorer for FC Barcelona, surpassing the previous record held by the great Cesar Rodriguez. Messi has also scored over 700 goals in his professional career, an extraordinary feat that highlights his incredible consistency and longevity.
Messi Takes On The World
Representing Argentina, he has participated in several FIFA World Cup tournaments and Copa America competitions. He led Argentina to the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2021 Copa America, earning individual accolades along the way before helping them win soccer’s holy grail in 2022. In Qatar, not only did he hoist the World Cup Trophy but Messi also earned his second World Cup Golden Ball award becoming the first player to win the honour twice. Messi’s impact and influence on the national team cannot be overstated.
Messi’s playing style is characterized by his exceptional close control, agility, and lightning-quick acceleration. His dribbling ability, often compared to that of Diego Maradona, allows him to navigate through tight spaces and evade multiple defenders. Messi’s vision and passing skills are equally impressive, enabling him to create scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. While Messi’s club career has been a resounding success, his international career has had its ups and downs.
Messi Turns down a billion Euros to play in Saudi Arabia
Before Inter-Milan signed Messi he was set to ink a major contract in Saudi Arabia. Most sports journalists and people in the know assumed Messi would choose to make €1 billion and move to Saudi Arabia’s Pro League once his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired, with the World Cup winner to be given his pick of the league’s top clubs. Representatives of the 35-year-old superstar met with three potential clubs: Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad, as well as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
SIMPLY THE BEST…
In what is considered a significant move for his career, Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, has shown equal concern for his legacy and financial status. Opting to join Major League Soccer (MLS), the Argentine superstar made a decision that may not necessarily enhance his stature, but avoids the moral compromises associated with joining the Saudi league.
The choice to play in the United States holds considerable importance both commercially and in terms of competition, unlike the Saudi league. In MLS, Messi’s performances will face intense scrutiny, surpassing what he would have encountered in Saudi Arabia. While this heightened attention carries risks, any potential success would elevate Messi’s profile as a player who fearlessly embraced a fresh challenge despite his advanced age.
According to a report from French publication L’Equipe, Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, played a significant role in his decision-making process, ultimately leading to the rejection of the Saudi offer.
by Myles Shane
with notes and quotes from Inter Miami CF