Lionel Messi referred to Major League Soccer as "a minor league" in an interview in Argentina, while speaking on whether he would compete in the 2026 World Cup despite celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Leonardo DiCaprio seeing him play.
Messi joined David Beckham's Inter Miami in a watershed event for the club and the league, with MLS permitting Apple and Adidas to contribute to his $60 million-per-year contract which might last until 2026.
Apple contributes to the arrangement through subscriptions to watch him play in the league, while Adidas gives him a share of Miami jersey sales with his name on the back.
While the league is not on par with the Spanish or French divisions in which Messi played during his time in Europe, the statements emanating from an interview with Argentina - in which he muses on last year's World Cup success and his future at the international level - make for difficult reading.
When questioned about the 2026 tournament, Messi told Star+, "I mentioned it countless times and it is a fact - I will always strive to compete to the utmost and I am the first to know when I can be there and when I can't."
"I am also aware that I went to a minor league, but a lot happens because of the way one faces it and competes."
Messi stated that he hopes to play for Argentina in next summer's Copa America, which will also be hosted in the United States.
"As long as I feel that I'm fine and I can continue contributing, I'm going to do it," Messi said.
"Today the only thing I think about is getting to the Copa América well and being able to compete in it. Fighting it again like we always did, trying to be champions."
When Messi joined Miami in the summer, he had an immediate impact, driving the team's League Cup victory and scored 11 goals in 14 games.
Miami also reached the US Open Cup final but was defeated by Houston Dynamo, with Messi unable to play due to injury.
They also missed the MLS postseason playoffs following a terrible start to the 2023 season under previous coach Phil Neville.
However, his presence in Miami altered the direction of their season, creating great anticipation for the following season - his first full year in MLS.