Inter Miami, led by David Beckham, wants to bring Messi to the American competition

Inter Miami, led by David Beckham, wants to bring Messi to the American competition

Lionel Messi is still in the PSG shirt.AFP photo

Is he coming or not coming? In the Major League Soccer MLS, which started a new season last Saturday, the name of Lionel Messi is mentioned regularly. The Argentine world champions have been linked with Inter Miami, David Beckham’s club, for months.

Miami would like to bring the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to Florida next summer along with Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. “I’m not going to deny that we’re interested,” Miami coach Phil Neville said in the run-up to the first league game against Montreal.

In Miami, people think big. The club, which made its MLS debut in 2020, has been linked with the most famous names since its founding. Ronaldo is mentioned. Griezmann, Di Maria and Messi. But until now, Beckham’s co-owner club has had to contend with retired Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi. Kieran Gibbs came. behind left. Ex Arsenal. Messi will be in a different order.

When Beckham secured his MLS license in 2018, the former LA Galaxy player posted a video message from the Argentine on his Instagram account. He concluded his congratulations with a joke, and thought: “Who knows, you can call me in a few years.” The call came, not from Beckham, but from owner and billionaire Jorge Mas. It is said that he leads the negotiations.

Serious competitor

Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires next summer, which he wants to keep. Paris has been talking about an extension for weeks, but Miami will be a serious contender to grab it, she said L’Equipe earlier this month.

Messi will have ears to cross. “I always dreamed of living in the United States and experiencing a football match there,” he told Argentine TV channel La Sexta more than two years ago. The world champion has a house in Miami, where he, like many other football players, loves to go on vacation. He does not need to speak English. The sunny beach town is a part of South America where most of the population speaks Spanish.

With the 2026 World Cup approaching, Messi’s arrival will give MLS a huge boost. “It’s going to be a game changer,” said Neville. pioneering.

The league has seen a spurt of growth in recent years. When Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007, there were thirteen clubs. Due to the addition of St. Louis City SC, which debuted on Saturday, currently has 29 games to play. Starting this season, matches can be watched worldwide on the Apple TV streaming service, which has deposited €2.4 billion to broadcast the next 10 seasons.

View numbers down

So Major League Soccer is doing fine, but the league could still use a boost. Ratings have plummeted last season, and Liga MX and the Premier League have become more popular with American soccer fans. With Messi in the Inter Miami jersey, MLS could begin a race to catch up. The Argentine also caused a great increase in interest and income in Paris.

At Inter Miami, Messi will join a club under construction. The current Drive Pink stadium is a temporary home and also located in Fort Lauderdale, less than an hour’s drive from the famous Miami Beach. And only in 2025 the club will move to the modern multifunctional Freedom Park near Miami Airport. It has not been built yet.

Beckham’s club also had a modest start in the sporting field, hampered by the virus infection. After two unsuccessful seasons, Miami made the playoffs for the first time last year. In the first round she was ready for the footballers dressed in pink.

Rejuvenation treatment

Commercially, Messi’s arrival would be a success beforehand, but on the field in MLS, there’s no bed spread out waiting for him. Formerly known as the retirement home for hapless stars from Europe, the competition has undergone a rejuvenating treatment in recent years. The clubs focus on talent, especially from Latin America. The average age in MLS has dropped to 25.9, which is younger than the English Premier League and La Liga.

It can be seen between the lines. In MLS, content and sports are crucial. Miami will have to surround pedestrian Messi, who is still adept on the ball, with the necessary workers. Other stars, like Busquets, won’t be able to just follow him: MLS clubs are limited in attracting players, among other things, by setting a salary cap.

That success in the MLS is not guaranteed, and has been proven in recent years by European greats like Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard (both from New York City FC), who have stifled competition. Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), David Villa (New York City FC) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Los Angeles Galaxy) had individual success and did not become champions.

But Messi is Messi. If he goes to America, he will follow in the footsteps of the great Pele, who gave new prestige to soccer in the United States in the 1970s at the New York Cosmos. “I’m optimistic,” Inter Miami owner Mas said last year about Messi’s potential arrival. “I think it is possible.”

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