After months of speculation and a widespread pursuit to sign him, Lionel Messi is poised to bring his talents to the United States.
According to CBS insider Guillem Balagué, Messi has decided to play for Inter Miami following his highly-publicized departure from Paris Saint-Germain. The Argentine superstar chose the MLS club over a number of other suitors, including his former club of Barcelona and the Saudi Arabian Pro League’s Al Hilal.
Though Messi’s final decision had been expected this week, Miami was by no means the clear frontrunner. Just last week, the 35-year-old’s father, Jorge Messi, told reporters that his son “would love” to return to Barcelona, where he spent the bulk of his club career from 2004 to ‘21.
Additionally, Messi had long been connected to Al Hilal as the Telegraph reported in May that the Saudi club had offered the global sensation a deal worth as much as $400 million (£320 million) annually. Messi went as far as to take a unsanctioned trip to Saudi Arabia and was suspended by PSG for two weeks for missing training while abroad.
However, it was Inter Miami that reportedly emerged victorious in the sweepstakes for Messi after having been associated with the 2022 World Cup winner for the better part of the last year. According to a Nov. 2022 report from The Times of London, Messi was close to signing a record-breaking deal with the MLS club around the time of the Qatar World Cup. No such deal came to fruition, but once Messi’s departure from PSG became clear, Inter Miami’s pursuit remained steady.
While the exact terms of Messi’s deal with Inter Miami remain unknown, the MLS club’s interest in the star forward has been well documented. In June 2021, club owner Jorge Mas told the Herald that he hoped to see Messi play in an Inter Miami jersey in the future.
“[Club president] David [Beckham] and I have been working really hard. We have aspirations of bringing the best players here. and Leo Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time,” Mas said.
“I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt, because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world class team.”