Argentinian football star Lionel Messi yesterday announced that he intends to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami as a free agent after parting ways with French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and snubbing a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.
Messi, who played his final game for PSG over the weekend, was also linked with a return to Barcelona, but the Spanish club have had their hands tied due to LaLiga’s financial fair play rules.
“I made the decision that I’m going to go to Miami,” Messi said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo and Sport newspapers.“I still haven’t closed it 100%. I’m still missing a few things, but we decided to go ahead. If Barcelona didn’t work out, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more about my family.”
Messi, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar in December and has earned a record seven Ballon d’Or Awards, won the Ligue 1 title in his two seasons with PSG as well as the French Super Cup in 2022.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the US league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day-to-day,” Messi said.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to want to win and to always do things well. But with more peace of mind,” he added.
The move is also a big win for MLS, which welcomed Messi while adding that work remained to finalise the details of the formal agreement.
“The (goat) is coming,” MLS tweeted, with a goat animal emoji standing in for the phrase “greatest of all time”. “Millions of MLS fans all over the world welcome you, Leo.”
The 🐐 is coming. Millions of MLS fans all over the world welcome you, Leo.
Follow along for more. 👀 pic.twitter.com/NLzkatvwrC
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 7, 2023
Messi had wanted to go to a club where he could eventually have an ownership stake, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters this week, and his contract is expected to pave the way for him to do so after he retires.
He will also receive a cut of the revenue from Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, which broadcasts the league’s games, and be able to maximise his existing sponsorship deal with Adidas.
MLS earns a flat fee of around $250 million per year from Apple until it reaches a certain threshold of subscriptions, after which point it will earn a share of the revenue from those subscriptions.
Messi’s move to MLS is expected to drive viewers to the Apple TV streaming platform given he is the world’s most recognisable football player.
Inter Miami are co-owned by former England captain David Beckham, who was one of the first major European stars to move to the United States to play in the MLS, winning the MLS Cup twice with Los Angeles Galaxy.