Lionel Messi is close to moving to Inter Miami next summer, where he’ll become the richest player in Major League Soccer history according to a sensational report in The Sunday Times.
Considered by many to be the greatest player of his generation, the 35-year-old Messi is still playing at an elite level with Paris Saint-Germain — and Argentina — and was expected to consider a return to Barcelona among several possible stops after his PSG contract expires this summer.
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A report in May said Messi would join Inter Miami and acquire 35% of the David Beckham’s club, as the Argentine already has a home in Miami as does close friend Luis Suarez. Speculation has linked Suarez and Cesc Fabregas to Inter Miami in moves that would be stratospheric for a league that has grown younger but also shown that world-class veterans can star late in their careers.
Messi to Miami: What it means for club, player, MLS
This is the rare deal that will make everyone with an MLS opinion nod at each other, whether defiant of the outdated “retirement league” criticism or those who think the league still needs big names to be relevant.
Messi is closing in on his 700th goal between Barca and PSG and has added 93 more for Argentina, with nearly 400 combined assists through club and country. He’s won seven Ballons d’Or and, according to FBRef.com, still ranks in the 99th percentile in net expected goals and assists, shot-creating actions, passes attempted, and progressive passes. He’d get some criticism from the diehard Cristiano Ronaldo and/or Real Madrid crowd and perhaps from those hoping he’d one day go home to Newell’s Old Boys, but Messi will be closer to Argentina and a closer event for South American and North American fans.
Inter Miami made its first playoff appearance in 2022, its third season in MLS. The club is coached by Phil Neville and boasted Messi pal Gonzalo Higuain until the player retired this summer. Alejandro Pozuelo is also out of contract and star Leonardo Campana was on loan from Wolves this season. Still on the roster are USMNT back DeAndre Yedlin, former Arsenal back Kieran Gibbs. Suffice it to say that if Pozuelo and Carlos Vela can affect a club the way they have in their 30s, Messi’s going to contend for every league honor a la Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Every single MLS club would sell out their dates against Inter Miami well in advance of the game. If you thought David Beckham was a box-office smash, get ready for something even bigger… if in fact this happens.