Lionel Messi had previously been linked with a potential move to Major League Soccer and despite interest from his former club Barcelona and continued interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia, the Argentine legend is taking his talents to North America.
Messi will sign with Inter Miami, the club and player both announced Wednesday. The 2022 World Cup winner will leave Paris Saint-Germain later this month as a free agent before making the move to MLS as the league’s biggest-ever signing.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the American league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day-to-day, obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win,” Messi told Diario Sport in an interview.
Messi will reportedly receive a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming service, as well as part-ownership of Inter Miami, according to ESPN.
Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal reportedly offered Messi a massive $300 million per year deal, which could’ve seen him reunited with longtime La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Professional League.
The 35-year-old recently helped PSG capture the Ligue 1 crown in 2022-23, registering 21 goals and 20 assists across all competitions. However, the French giants were unable to lift a UCL title in Messi’s two seasons at the Parc Des Princes.
Messi previously starred for Barcelona, racking up 672 goals and 303 assists in 778 combined appearances for the La Liga club. A seven-time Ballon D’or winner, Messi lifted 35 major trophies during his time at Barcelona, winning four UCL titles and 10 La Liga crowns.
He excelled for Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, leading Lionel Scaloni’s squad to a first title since 1986.
It is undetermined when Messi would begin his Inter Miami career, but reports suggest in July during the upcoming Leagues Cup. The Herons have struggled for majority of 2023, sitting last in the Eastern Conference and recently firing manager Phil Neville last week.
Inter Miami remains in the U.S. Open Cup though, facing off with USL Championship side Birmingham Legion FC in quarterfinal action on Wednesday night.
Messi’s move is the latest major acquisition by MLS over the league’s history. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Lorenzo Insigne, and David Beckham are just some of the key names that have made the move from Europe to MLS at the latter stages of their careers.