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Lionel Messi has formally joined Inter Miami CF, as the club announced Saturday they’ve signed the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and FIFA World Cup champion.

The Argentine superstar, who will occupy a Designated Player slot, is under contract with Inter Miami through the 2025 Major League Soccer season. 

"I'm very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States," said Messi. "This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I'm very eager to start helping here in my new home."

Global star

The news formalizes what Messi declared in early June, stating “I’m going to Miami” and igniting a period of anticipation and excitement behind arguably the game’s greatest all-time player coming to MLS.

Messi is expected to debut on July 21 at DRV PNK Stadium during Inter Miami’s Leagues Cup opener, when they’ll meet Liga MX side Cruz Azul in the revamped competition between neighboring leagues. They'll also host Atlanta United on July 25 in their Leagues Cup group stage.

Fans around the world can watch Messi, Inter Miami and all the action on MLS Season Pass, the subscription service from Apple and Major League Soccer that is available in more than 100 countries and regions. 

"I am honored to welcome Leo Messi and his family to their new home," said Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CF managing owner. "In 2018, we made a promise to build an ambitious club that would attract the world’s elite players. A club that would transform the global view of fútbol in the United States and ensure that wherever fútbol is discussed, your Inter Miami is part of the conversation. A heartfelt thank you to our fans that never stopped believing. Together we will continue to turn dreams into reality."

Messi, who won the 2022 World Cup with Argentina seven months ago, recently became a free agent after spending the last two years at French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain. He most memorably spent over two decades at Spanish giants FC Barcelona, spanning from their academy to the first team. Across his career for club and country, Messi has won an astounding 43 trophies (joint most all-time) and scored over 800 goals.

Quite fittingly, Messi joins the MLS club that’s co-owned by David Beckham, whose 2007 arrival to the LA Galaxy ignited the league’s Designated Player rule and coincided with a massive period of growth and expansion both on and off the field – including when Miami launched in 2020.

"Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city. Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much," Beckham.

"Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch."

Bienvenido Messi

In Miami, Messi reunites with head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino after the duo worked together at Barcelona and Argentina. Martino’s arrival was announced in late June, bringing the MLS Cup-winning manager (Atlanta United in 2018) back to the league.

Chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson has indicated the club expects additional signings this summer, further revamping the Herons’ roster. But the centerpiece in South Beach is undoubtedly Messi, whose global fame and sporting accomplishments are in a tier of their own.

"We are overjoyed that the greatest player in the world chose 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," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "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. We look forward to seeing his debut for Inter Miami in our Leagues Cup tournament later this month.”

Messi will be formally unveiled this Sunday, July 16 during the Bienvenido Messi ceremony at DRV PNK Stadium – an event that will include entertainment, speeches on the pitch and more.