Football legend and World Cup-winning Argentinian captain Lionel Messi has declared his decision to join Major League Soccer Club Inter Miami. The 35-year-old Argentine attacker chose the United States as his next destination over a possible reunion with Barcelona or a high-profile deal to play in Saudi Arabia.
Messi, who has spent the previous two seasons with PSG, played his last and final game for the French club on Saturday, bringing his tenure to an end after leaving Barcelona in 2021, where he has spent most of his illustrious and noteworthy career.
Messi has won the Ballon d’Or seven times and is poised to win it again after leading Argentina to World Cup triumph in Qatar in December 2022.
Everyone in the realm of football was eagerly awaiting Messi’s decision regarding his choice of club to move to. This anticipation was built after PSG stated this week that the attacker, often tagged as the best player in history, was leaving its club.
Inter Miami is a professional American football team headquartered in Fort Lauderdale. Its official name is Team Internacional de Futbol Miami, better known as Inter Miami CF. It was founded in 2018 and debuted in America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) in the season of 2020. The club now plays its MLS home games at DRV PNK Stadium, the old Lockhart Stadium in nearby Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inter Miami is co-owned by David Beckham, a football star.
Why Miami Over Riyadh?
Lionel Messi, like many wealthy Latin Americans, is relocating to Miami. Unlike most of them, he had the leisure to move anywhere — and had he chosen Riyadh, he could have been a billionaire. It raises questions as to why one of the most followed and famous football player in the world would choose a team that is placed last in a country where football is not even among the top three sports.
In truth, Messi’s likely contract with Inter Miami of Major League Soccer in the United States makes a lot of sense – professionally, personally, and possibly even financially despite the pay gap.
First, there are professional considerations. Messi, who won the World Cup in December, has accomplished everything in football: Ballon d’Or accolades, European crowns, and league titles. He’ll be 36 within a month, but he still has the energy and potential to play at the highest level for a few more years. Staying at PSG which is owned by Quatar, where he was frequently whistled by French supporters, was out of the question. Returning to Barcelona, his life’s club, would have resulted in the “Last Dance” that his fans in Catalonia and around the world desired. Despite this, Barça’s severe financial state and delicate political scenario made a deal difficult.
That puts two “money options” on the table for Messi: Inter Miami, the club he eventually chose, and Saudi Arabia where he has worked as a tourist ambassador, the club which people anticipated him to move to. Since Messi is already one of the richest athletes in the world, money probably is not a consideration.
He could be following in the footsteps of Pelé — another football legend of all time, who famously joined for the New York Cosmos in 1975 — and betting that “soccer” will finally take hold in the world’s largest economy.
He could possibly also be considering David Beckham and the prestige he could lend, who moved to the MLS in 2007, bringing his career to a close but elevating his notoriety to a new (and more profitable) level. With his decision, Messi has excited football fans across the world as an excitement about this new chapter is in the air.