Lionel Messi, 36 in the twilight of his career, surprised the whole world with his decision this summer, and that was to not join his boyhood club FC Barcelona. The complications with Laliga & FFP were too much to endure again for Leo. After enduring two difficult years in Paris where he was constantly criticized by the French press despite delivering two Ligue 1 titles, the Argentine skipper has decided to move to America’s MLS in a blockbuster transfer to Inter Miami. Messi MLS debut will take place this week in the League Cup game against Cruz Azul.
Here are all the details you need to know:
What really happened with FC Barcelona?
Joan Laporta the President of the Catalan club teased all year of making an effort to bring back Messi and remove that tag from his chest of the “President who let Messi go”. After Messi decided not to renew his additional year with PSG, Barca began preparing the contract for Messi in viable circumstances which shall be both accepted by FFP & La Liga.
Xavi remained in constant contact with the Argentine to convince & explain the project to him. After a lot of waiting & speculation regarding the viability plan being accepted or not, La Liga finally gave the green light to Barcelona under some terms & conditions. To register Messi, some player sales had to be made.
After a lot of deliberation & thought Messi decided with his family not to join Barcelona despite him loving to return. His father Jorge Messi communicated to Laporta the next morning that Leo wanted to move to a league with less pressure & attention which the president completely understood.
Offers from Clubs
Messi had confirmed offers from four different clubs; PSG, FC Barcelona, Al-Hilal & Inter Miami. Some unconfirmed reports of Premier League clubs pursuing Leo also made rounds.
Al-Hilal made a gigantic offer to Messi, making him the highest-paid player in the history of football by offering him a contract worth €2 Billion Euros to tempt him in selecting Saudi League over MLS.
Inter Miami had been persuading Messi for a very long time. David Beckham the club’s co-owner & President made clear on numerous occasions on bringing the best players to MLS. He said:
“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,” he said. “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.
Messi’s Green Signal to MLS – Inter Miami
With a Barcelona return failing to materialize, he had the straight choice between Inter Miami or Al-Hilal. He was heavily tipped to be favouring a move to Saudi Arabia, where he would have joined Cristiano Ronaldo, his rival in Spain for almost 10 years, and Karim Benzema in the league in a deal that could not be matched financially.
But Messi was ultimately tempted to Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami for a variety of reasons including lifestyle, and a deal with big brands that extends beyond football.
He also owns a house in Miami, which he rents out. In an interview, Leo finally revealed his next club & went on to say:
“I’ve taken the decision that I am going to Miami,” Messi told newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo. “[I decided] to leave Europe. It’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even think about it because in Europe, my idea was only to go to Barcelona.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day-to-day life more.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm. If it was about money I’d have gone to Saudi.”
Official Presentation & Contract
Inter Miami confirmed the signing of Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi, ahead of unveiling the blockbuster new arrival to MLS at its DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday. Messi was welcomed by the club owners American billionaires Jose Mas, Jorge Mas & David Beckham in a jam-packed stadium that welcomed perhaps the greatest footballer of all time to their home.
Messi was joined in by his family who looked happy & astounded by the support & recognition they received from the fans. His three sons Thiago, Mateo & Ciro supported Inter Miami’s pink home jerseys. Leo went on to address the crowd:
“I want to thank all the people in Miami for this welcome, this affection since I arrived here. I am very excited to be with you. I want to thank Jose, Jorge, and David for this recognition, for making everything easy, and for making us feel at home. I really want to start training, and competing, I really want to win and for this club to keep growing,” said Messi in his welcome speech.
“I hope that throughout the tournament you will continue to accompany us. Personally, I believe that my teammates are going to give everything to build this project and I am very happy to have chosen this city, to have chosen this project and I have no doubt that we are going to have a great time and we are going to experience very nice things.”
“I’m so happy to be here,” Messi declared. “I can’t wait to start training and competing. I’m here to compete, to win, to help the team as I always did,” he added. “I come here with the same desire as always. I want to thank the Miami fans,” he added. “ I feel your love and support.”
Beckham takes the stage to welcome Messi: “Please forgive me for feeling a little bit emotional tonight. It really is a dream come true to welcome Lionel Messi to Inter Miami,” 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 soccer star said. “Bienvenido a la familia.”
Leo Messi will earn “between £50 million and $60m per year. The contract runs till the end of the MLS season in December 2025 with an option for a further year. The terms of the deal also include an option for part-ownership of Inter Miami, but it would not be subsidized by the league as it was for David Beckham in 2007.
Reunion with friends at Inter Miami
Inter Miami also presented Messi’s longtime friend & teammate at FC Barcelona Sergio Busquets to the crowd. The deal with Jordi Alba has also been agreed & he will sign in the upcoming days. The club is managed by Gerardo Martino who coached Messi at both Argentina (2014-16) & FC Barcelona (2013-14).
The Herons are also tempting Luis Suarez to join the side to complete a reunion of all the friends. A potential move by Suárez is also complicated by the league’s roster restrictions. Following the signings of Messi and Busquets, Miami already had its full quota of three designated players, alongside forward Leonardo Campana.
It is possible Alba, Suárez or Campana could be registered using targeted allocation money (TAM), but even then Miami is limited.
Messi MLS Debut
Messi has already joined his teammates for the training sessions with his former teammate. The highly anticipated Messi MLS debut will take place on Friday 21st of July when they take on LIGA MX side Cruz Azul in the opening match of the League’s Cup. Leo will be available for selection.
The League’s Cup is a new 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.
The legendary star forward has a big task at hand as Inter Miami are currently languishing at the bottom of MLS’ eastern conference, winless in their past 11 matches.
Meanwhile, the prices for tickets to see Inter Miami’s latest superstar have skyrocketed. Tickets for Friday’s Leagues Cup game are priced as high as $56,901 as of Monday afternoon, according to ticket retailer Vivid Seats. Ticket prices for all of Inter Miami’s upcoming games seem to have increased now that Messi has joined.