After months of speculation about his future, Lionel Messi (35) announced on Wednesday that he would play soccer in the United States. The Argentine world champions are the latest addition to Inter Miami, the club that part-owns David Beckham. Messi chose Florida to return to Barcelona or gainful employment in Saudi Arabia.
“I decided to go to Miami,” Messi revealed in an interview with Spanish newspapers. sports And Mundo Deportivo. The football star said the deal was not finalized yet, but “this is the path we choose.”
Messi’s arrival is a major milestone in Major League Soccer (MLS). A special bonus building had to be designed for this. According to US media, he will be participating in the proceeds of Apple TV, the streaming service that has been bringing MLS matches exclusively to subscribers since this season. In addition, he will have a stake in the club and is one of the exceptional players for whom the salary cap could be broken.
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Described by Quinn van der Velden De Volkskrant About Sports in the United States. Lives in New York.
The sporty side is less attractive to Messi. Compared to European giants such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Miami is a baby who has just learned to walk. The club was founded by Beckham and real estate billionaire Jorge Mas and made its MLS debut in 2020. Miami has made the playoffs only once in the past three seasons.
Once again, Miami is at the bottom of the Eastern Division. It cost England manager Phil Neville his job last week. Former Argentina coach Tata Martino will be the favorite to succeed him.
Young soccer players, fit
Messi moves to the league where young footballers, mostly from Latin America, star. On a technical and tactical level, Major League Soccer still lags behind European competitions, but there is no bulge anymore.
It is precisely the Messi who walks a lot who will need a balanced selection support. Former Feyenoord player Nick Marsman is currently a backup goalkeeper at Miami. The number of stars that can be attracted is restricted by the salary cap.
Messi is following in the footsteps of Beckham, who signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 and gave American football a huge boost. In his contract with the league, the Englishman stated that he could one day start a club. I became Miami. In 2018, Beckham got his license. Messi was one of the prominent figures who congratulated him via video message. “Who knows, you’ll be calling me in a few years,” the Argentine joked.
Wooden thread playground
Controversy over the location of the new stadium hampered the start of Inter Miami. Just last year, the club received permission to build a new home in the city: the multifunctional Freedom Park, with a capacity of 25,000 spectators, will open in 2025.
According to goalkeeper Marsman, Messi is too old to play in Miami. He told ESPN: “I don’t think our club is ready yet. We have a temporary pitch and people can walk on the pitch. For example, there are no fences. There is no security when we walk from the training ground to the pitch, but I hope he comes.”
The question is whether Messi will continue his experience in the pink Inter Miami jersey. This season they will play their home games at Drive Pink Stadium. The simple building is located next to a freeway near Fort Lauderdale, an hour’s drive from chic Miami Beach. It is a temporary stadium with four separate stands, hastily constructed in the lead-up to the first season. For Messi, the decor will take some getting used to.
MLS hopes to generate more interest in the four-time Champions League winner, as Pele did in the 1970s and later with Beckham, and to a lesser extent with star players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrea Pirlo.
Shortly after Wednesday’s announcement, Messi’s impact was already evident: Tickets that would normally sell for a few cents were suddenly worth hundreds of dollars. “We are pleased that Messi wants to come to the MLS this summer,” the league said. “We look forward to welcoming one of the greatest footballers of all time.”
Domestically, MLS has yet to prioritize the English Premier League and Mexico’s Liga MX, both of which attract more viewers. In any case, football in America will be in the spotlight in the coming years: next year the Copa America will be held in the United States, followed two years later by the World Cup, which will be organized together with Mexico and Canada.
Messi may debut with Miami in July. With the arrival of the Argentine, the American public can see firsthand how the world champion works.
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