Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has signed a contract with Inter Miami through the 2025 season, the Major League Soccer team announced on Saturday. The team is set to unveil the 36-year-old striker, who led Argentina to the World Cup title in Qatar last year, at a ceremony on Sunday and is expected to join Inter Miami on the pitch by Friday. “I am very excited to begin this next phase of my career at Inter Miami and in America,” Messi said in a statement.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival in Miami from Paris Saint-Germain has already created a sensation and is expected to generate even more interest in the game and MLS across the United States.
The longtime Barcelona star hopes to revive the fortunes of a Miami squad near the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference, 5-13 with three draws.
“This is a great opportunity and we will continue to build this beautiful project together,” Messi said. “The idea is to work together to achieve the goals we have set, and I am very eager to help here in my new home.”
Messi will make his debut on Friday when Inter Miami host Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup, a revamped competition between MLS and Mexican league squads.
It is the biggest boost to MLS since English star David Beckham, who now co-owns Inter Miami, joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. He launched the MLS Miami squad in 2020 after years of trying to find a stadium.
“Ten years ago, when I began my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamed of bringing the best players in the world to this amazing city, players who shared the ambition I had when I joined the LA Galaxy to help. “Grow soccer in the USA and build a legacy for the next generation of the sport we love so much,” Beckham said in a statement.
“Today that dream came true.
“I couldn’t be more proud that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club. The next stage of our adventure begins here and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”
– ‘World’s Largest’ –
Inter Miami head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has managed Messi in two separate stints — with FC Barcelona in the 2013-14 campaign, winning the 2013 Spanish Supercup, and with the Argentina national team from 2014-2016.
Maestro Messi has scored 103 goals and 175 appearances for Argentina, leading the Albiceleste to victory in the 2021 Copa America and Qatar World Cup.
“We are thrilled that Inter Miami and Major League Soccer have chosen the best player in the world,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
“His decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our league and our sport in North America.”
Messi is set for a grand welcome ceremony on Sunday at “The Unveil” where 18,000 people are expected to watch his first public appearance with his new club, followed by his first training session on Tuesday.
“We promised to build an ambitious club that would attract the world’s elite players,” Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas said.
“A heartfelt thank you to our fans who never stop believing. Together we will continue to make dreams come true.”
With Messi expected to be joined by Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, the hope is that Inter Miami can rise from a doormat to a champion.
“Lionel Messi is an incomparable talent,” Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson said. “What he brings on and off the field will elevate everyone around him.”
His legend has few rivals.
Messi is a two-time World Cup Golden Ball winner, three-time UEFA Best Men’s Player award and six La Liga Best Player titles.
Messi is a four-time UEFA Champions League winner, an Olympic gold medalist, has played in 10 La Liga champions, two Ligue 1 champions, and won seven Copa del Rey titles.
He played for Barcelona from 2004-2021 before joining Paris Saint-Germain for two seasons, making 75 appearances in all competitions, scoring 32 goals and providing 35 assists.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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