World champion Lionel Messi has finalized his deal to join Major League Soccer, and after years of planning and pursuit, Inter Miami have landed a global icon. Messi’s contract became official on Saturday, just over five weeks after he announced he would come to Inter Miami. The team will feature him on Sunday night at their home stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and the first home game of the Messi era could take place as early as Friday in a League Cup tie against Cruz Azul.
An official press conference is scheduled for Monday and his first training session with his new club is scheduled for Tuesday. The club previously announced that That of Lionel Messi the deal will be for 2 1/2 seasons and will earn him between $50 million and $60 million a year, bringing the total contract value to between $125 million and $150 million in cash alone.
“BIENVENIDO 10,” the team posted on Twitter on Saturday. “Welcome, Messi, indeed.”
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“We are delighted that the greatest player in the world has chosen Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer, and his decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our League and our sport in North America,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. .
“We have no doubt that Lionel will show the world that MLS can be a league of choice for the best players in the game.”
When will Messi play his first game for Inter Miami?
There is no official update from the club if or when Messi will play his first game for the team, but Inter Miami are set to play in MLS on August 21 against Charlotte. Messi’s side played their first match after it was officially announced on Sunday July 16 against St. Louis, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was not in the squad.
It is, in many ways, an unusual marriage. Messi is perhaps the game’s biggest star yet and signs with a side that entered last in the MLS Eastern Conference standings on Saturday. It is a club in only its fourth season playing in a temporary home that will only be able to accommodate around 22,000 people when some rushed renovations, such as the addition of extra bleacher seats, are completed.
Never mind. Soccer royalty now plays for Inter Miami.
Messi arrived in South Florida on Tuesday after the holidays, then began the physical and paperwork process on Wednesday and the deal was finalized on Saturday afternoon.
The seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, the trophy awarded each year to the best player in the world, makes his debut in Miami after two years with Paris Saint-Germain.
“I am very happy to start this next stage of my career with Inter Miami and in the United States”, Messi said in a statement.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the goals we have set ourselves, and I can’t wait to start helping here in my new home. ”
It was widely known that Messi would leave PSG. The mystery was where he was going. Some believed Messi would eventually choose to play for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, after longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo in a kingdom where some clubs are now funded by its sovereign wealth fund. Returning to Barcelona, a legendary franchise where he spent most of his career, was another possibility.
Eventually, Miami won. An idea that the co-owner David Beckham started floating publicly in 2021 two years prior, obviously the team actually started thinking about how to achieve that has now come true.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the United League to experience football in a different way,” Messi said in June during of the announcement of its decision.
He led Argentina to the World Cup title last December. Messi has over 800 goals in his career for club and country, making him one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the sport. He scored twice in last year’s World Cup final against France, a game that ended 3-3 with Argentina winning 4-2 on penalties.
He is a four-time Champions League winner and his 129 goals in the top club competition are second only to Ronaldo’s 140. Messi has won 10 La Liga titles and two Ligue 1 championships, seven Copa del Reys and three Club World Cups plus a Copa America. and Olympic gold medal for Argentina.
“Ten years ago when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said I dreamed of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city,” Beckham said.
“Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow the game of football in the United States and leave a legacy for the next generation in the sport we love so much. Today, this dream has come true.”
The club played a road game on Saturday in St. Louis, but when news broke that Messi may have been at the team’s premises that morning, a few hundred fans showed up hoping to get a glimpse, not even discouraged by a late morning thunderstorm. Many wore Messi shirts, some light blue from Argentina, some pink and black from Inter Miami. Some carried flags; one carried a sign mostly in Spanish, but the words “Messi” and “GOAT” made the message clear.
It’s just part of a welcome party that’s just getting started.
Messi was seen at a Publix supermarket near Fort Lauderdale, the grocery chain is an Inter Miami sponsor with his family earlier in the week, and the cart contained a few items picked out by the kids: Froot Loops, Cap ‘n Crunch, Lucky Charms. The scene went viral the moment he reached the checkout.
A serial goalscorer is obviously also a grain fan. And now it’s time for the football to begin. Inter Miami plan to feature Messi on Sunday night, at an event the club calls The Unveil. Shakira is rumored to be in attendance and tickets are long gone for the weeks-awaited show.
Hopes for the franchise are now officially sky high. Inter Miami have never fought for a title; Messi could change everything quickly for a team that has won only 34% of its games in MLS.
“Lionel Messi is an incomparable talent,” said Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson.
“What he brings on and off the pitch will uplift everyone around him and we are thrilled to have him at Inter Miami.” (With PTI inputs)