Lionel Messi picks MLS's Inter Miami in stunning move after exit from PSG
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner makes his move after two years with Paris Saint-Germain.
Argentina's star footballer Lionel Messi stunned the football community on Wednesday night when he announced a move to Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami. The move came days after Messi's final match for Paris Saint-Germain; the star forward was heavily linked with a transfer back to FC Barcelona, as well as Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. The Miami franchise is led by global football icon David Beckham, and the signing of Messi comes as a big boost to their revival this year; Inter Miami are currently at the bottom of the table in the Eastern Conference.
One of Inter Miami’s owners, Jorge Mas, tweeted out a photo of a darkly silhouetted Messi jersey shortly before the Argentinian great revealed his decision in interviews with Spanish news outlets Mundo Deportivo and Sport.
He said in the interviews Wednesday that some final details still need to be worked out, but that he has made the call to “continue my path” in Miami.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way,” Messi said.
Following Messi's decision to go to the United States, Barcelona also put out a statement wishing their former Argentinian star luck in a league with “fewer demands.”
"On Monday, June 5, Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, informed Club President Joan Laporta of the player's decision to join Inter Miami, despite having been presented with a proposal from Barça, in consideration of the desire of both FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi for him to once again wear blaugrana.
“President Laporta understood and respected Messi's decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years,” the statement from Barcelona read.
Messi’s next matches are likely to be exhibitions with Argentina against Australia on June 15 at Beijing and at Indonesia in Jakarta four days later — and then his Inter Miami debut figures to be sometime in July.
“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer this summer,” read a statement from MLS. “Although work remains to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our league.”
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner — the trophy given annually to the world's best player — makes his move after two years with Paris Saint-Germain. At 35, Messi has nothing left to prove in the game and filled the only significant unchecked box on his resume back in December by leading Argentina to the World Cup title.
Messi has more than 800 goals in his career for club and country, making him one of the greatest scorers in the sport’s history. In more than 17 years of representing Argentina on the international stage, he has scored 102 goals against 38 different national team opponents — 16 of those goals coming on U.S. soil. He scored twice in last year’s World Cup final against France, a match that ended 3-3 with Argentina prevailing 4-2 on penalty kicks.
He has been to the absolute mountaintop of the game. He is a four-time Champions League winner and his 129 goals in the top club competition are second 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 América and Olympic gold medal for Argentina.