What you need to know

From the legend himself! Lionel Messi confirms his plans to join Inter Miami CF:

Lionel Messi confirmed the news Wednesday, saying he's coming to South Beach roughly six months after winning the World Cup with Argentina. On the same day, Major League Soccer released the statement below about Lionel 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.

That’s right, y’all. "Im going to Miami."

The world reacts

Lionel Messi sent shockwaves through the news cycle yesterday after announcing his intention to join Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer this summer. Here’s how the world reacted.

Some other soccer results idk I got distracted ohmygoodness Messi in MLS!

RSL signing former LAFC striker Arango

Real Salt Lake are bringing striker Cristian Arango back to Major League Soccer this summer on a club-record deal, according to The Athletic’s Tom Bogert. Arango would arrive from Pachuca roughly four months after LAFC transferred him to the Mexican club. He left in February on a reported $6 million transfer, looking for an increased contract after not being a Designated Player during his first MLS stint.

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He's on the way. Can he save Inter Miami's season?

It seems to be happening. I don’t need to explain how massive that is because you already know and you’ve probably already read 40 other articles explaining it and because you’ve already thought about paying off your student loan debt by selling tickets to the first time he comes to your home team’s stadium. Even with all the coverage yesterday and to come, it’s still going to be hard to process him explicitly saying he’s on his way. Even if there are a couple of steps left to go.

“I’ve made the decision that I’m going to Miami,” he said. “It’s still not a done deal 100 percent. I’m missing a few things but we’ve decided to keep going down the path.”

When will he visit your home team’s stadium? We don’t know that yet, but here is Inter Miami’s schedule because it’s always a good idea to be ready.

He’s going to be incredible. He’s coming off a year with 16 goals and 16 assists in Ligue 1. He’s the greatest player of all time. Throw the travel out the window, don’t worry about the heat and pay no attention to the MLS weirdness that’s turned other big names into relative afterthoughts. He’ll instantly be spectacular. There’s zero doubt of what he’ll personally be able to accomplish.

Will that be enough to make Inter Miami an Audi MLS Cup Playoff team though? In the roster’s current state, there’s not a straightforward answer. The Herons are currently sitting on 15 points through 16 games. They’ll play six more MLS games, Leagues Cup will happen and they’ll likely have 12 games with him in the lineup. At their current pace of 0.94 points per game, they’re on track to grab 5 or 6 points before Leagues Cup. If we’re setting the playoff line for ninth place somewhere around 42 points, Miami are going to need 21 points over those final 12 games to finish in ninth place and make the play in game. As good as he is, that’s a heavy load to carry from the jump.

Inter Miami are currently last in the league in pretty much every possible underlying metric. Per American Soccer Analysis, they’re last in expected goals for, expected goals against, expected goal differential and goals added differential. This is the worst team in the league.

That’s in part due to injury. They’ve lost central midfielder Jean Mota for most of the year to an LCL injury and central midfielder Gregore for most of the year with a Lisfranc injury. In their place, they’ve generally had to trot out emergency signing Dixon Arroyo, and a cast of homegrowns that’s included Benjamin Cremaschi, Ian Fray and David Ruiz. There has been a lot of searching for makeshift solutions.

But even if they had Mota and Gregore, it doesn’t seem like this group would be comfortably above the playoff line. There are still holes in this roster that need to be patched over. It’s going to be an otherworldly achievement to get the Herons above the line over the course of 12 games in a new league.

The good news is, he’s an alien. Not only that, he’s an alien who can attract reinforcements. There are already rumors popping of other players coming to South Beach. And there aren’t many players who are going to pass up the opportunity to be a part of what’s going to happen over the next couple of years. Need eyeballs on you to make a jump in your career? You’ll have them. Want a chance to play with the best player ever? You’ll get it. The collective pool of players available to Miami has widened exponentially.

Are those reinforcements going to arrive quickly enough? Can they arrive at all with Miami’s salary cap limitations? I don’t know. But that’s part of why this is the single-most fascinating moment in league history. He has to be the catalyst for a team that’s never come close to matching its lofty expectations until about 18 hours ago.

If he doesn’t do it this year though, it seems like he’ll absolutely do it next year. Inter Miami will be healthy and able to bring in new players over the course of the offseason. They’ll also have completely adapted to the new manager’s game model. Although, it seems like folks who have been following MLS might be pretty familiar with that game model already if the rumors of Tata Martino in Miami are true.

No matter who’s in charge, he’s on the way. He’s going to change the league forever. He’s going to change the cultural view of this sport in the US and Canada forever. He’s going to change Inter Miami forever. The only question is how long it will take him to turn the Herons into a contender.

Other Things

23 players called into Canada roster for Concacaf Nations League finals: Canadian men's national team head coach John Herdman announced a 23-player roster Wednesday for the upcoming Concacaf Nations League Finals. Take a look at the full roster here.

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