Messi's move to Inter Miami represents new chapter in his career, providing an opportunity for him to make a lasting impact on growing popularity of soccer in US
Lionel Messi, the renowned Argentine footballer, has announced his decision to join Major League Soccer (MLS) team Inter Miami, leaving behind the possibility of a return to Barcelona or a lucrative deal in Saudi Arabia.
After spending the last two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Messi expressed his desire to explore a new football experience in the United States.
The 35-year-old forward, a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, concluded his time at PSG and opted for a move to Inter Miami as a free agent. Despite being linked to a potential Barcelona reunion, the financial limitations faced by the Spanish club prevented a viable return. Messi revealed that he wanted to leave Europe to escape the intense spotlight and prioritise his family.
Acknowledging his successful World Cup victory in Qatar, Messi expressed his eagerness to embrace a different football environment in the MLS and enjoy a more relaxed daily life. He underscored his commitment to performing well and winning but with a newfound sense of tranquility.
Inter Miami, co-owned by former English footballer David Beckham, welcomed Messi's decision, although the agreement is yet to be finalised. The MLS expressed their enthusiasm for having one of the greatest players of all time join their league.
Reports suggest that Messi's desire for an ownership stake in a club, as well as his existing endorsement deals with Adidas and MLS's partnership with Apple, played a role in his decision. His move to Inter Miami is expected to generate increased viewership on the Apple TV streaming platform.
Despite the allure of a potential Barcelona return and the financial prospects offered in Saudi Arabia, Messi opted for the sun-soaked city of Miami, a place he has previously vacationed. Various sources indicate that key MLS sponsors, including Adidas and Apple TV, may contribute to the deal.
Inter Miami, however, currently faces challenges on the field. The team is currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and coach Phil Neville was recently replaced by interim coach Javier Morales.
Messi's departure from Barcelona in 2021 and PSG in 2023 marks a significant shift in his career. While the circumstances of his Barcelona exit were beyond his control due to financial constraints, his departure from PSG was a personal decision driven by the lack of a promising future project and fan unrest.
Barcelona, Messi's former club, expressed their best wishes for his future endeavors and confirmed that both Joan Laporta, the club's president, and Jorge Messi, Lionel's father and representative, will collaborate to organise a suitable tribute from Barcelona fans to honor their beloved footballer.