Lionel Messi wants to join Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer.
One of the game's greatest-ever players confirmed the news Wednesday, saying he's coming to South Beach roughly six months after winning the World Cup with Argentina. The 35-year-old forward, leaving French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent, would represent a true landmark signing for the club and league.
Also on Wednesday, Major League Soccer released the following statement about Messi's intention to join the club this summer:
We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer this summer. 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 move would end a years-long speculation period where Miami add the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner – and he would fittingly join a club that’s co-owned by David Beckham, whose 2007 arrival to the LA Galaxy ignited the league’s Designated Player rule. That coincided with a massive period of growth and expansion both on and off the field, including when Miami launched in 2020. Now, this transfer coup would add rocket fuel to those tailwinds and provide a must-see player for fans in stadiums across the US and Canada, as well as globally via MLS Season Pass broadcasts on the Apple TV app.
Messi’s announcement sent shockwaves throughout the global soccer landscape, reportedly rejecting advances from Spanish side FC Barcelona and the Saudi Pro League in recent days. Leaving Europe for the first time as a professional after debuting in 2004, the left-footed icon would bring a spotlight to a club that’s looking to match star power with their lofty ambitions.
Messi's accomplishments & impact
Messi has scored an astounding 806 goals in 1,027 career games for Barcelona, PSG and Argentina – plus has won 43 trophies for club and country. He’s often discussed alongside Pele, Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo as the game’s best-ever men’s players, a debate that may have been settled last winter when his starring performance brought Argentina their first World Cup trophy since 1986.
Messi is expected to pull the strings on a Miami attack that’s searched for a centerpiece after striker Gonzalo Higuaín, his former international teammate, retired following an esteemed 2022 MLS season with Miami. They’re now led by two South American strikers: Venezuelan international Josef Martínez, a former Landon Donovan MLS MVP with Atlanta United, and rising Ecuadorian international Leonardo Campana.
With Messi eyeing center stage in MLS, Miami hope to build off their best-ever season after finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference table in 2022 – all before a Round One exit in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs to New York City FC. Miami sit 15th in the East, but are only six points off the conference’s ninth and final playoff spot. They are currently led by interim head coach Javier Morales after they parted ways with manager Phil Neville late last week.
Miami, who currently play at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, are working towards debuting Miami Freedom Park. The privately-funded soccer-specific stadium would seat 25,000 fans.