Less than a week after Lionel Messi’s confirmed departure from PSG as a free agent, the World Cup winner has signed an unprecedented deal with David Beckham’s Inter Miami to lead the line for a currently undisclosed amount of time. Here’s everything you need to know about the transfer:
Money & Offers
While contract specifics haven’t been made public, sources have uncovered pieces of the complex financial package offered to Messi in order to lure him to the Magic City. According to The New York Times, Messi qualifies for a special exception in MLS’ salary rules, know as a ‘Designated Player’, and has been offered a percentage of Inter Miami once he leaves the club. MLS kit manufacturer, Adidas, and MLS exclusive broadcasters, Apple, have also been said to pay a portion of the fee required to bring Messi to America due to their vested interest in shirt sales and streaming subscriptions respectively.
This creative deal was devised rapidly over the last few days to divert Messi’s attention from a reported $500m deal offered by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal to follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema and become the country’s next major signing.
Why Inter Miami?
In an exclusive interview with Mundo Desportivo released mere hours after Fabrizio Romano confirmed the move, Messi elaborated on his reasons for signing on to the Miami club over the likes of Barcelona and Al-Hilal, stating:
“If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me… the truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money”.
He continued, “I really wanted to return to Barça, I had that dream. But after what happened two years ago, I did not want to be in the same situation again, leaving my future in the hands of someone else… I wanted to take my own decision, thinking of me and my family”.
What The Move Means For MLS
MLS is currently halfway through their 23/24 season with Inter Miami rock bottom of the Eastern Conference, sitting on 15 points after sacking manager Phil Neville a mere five days before Messi’s move. While MLS has made many marquee singings in the past – with the likes of David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, and Gareth Bale all having played in the league – none of them have a stature quite like Messi. The 35 year old talisman is only six months off his historic world cup win, and was just crowned Ligue 1’s top playmaker with a strong 16 assists for the Parisian giants.
It is clear that his career is by no means at its end, and a dramatic surge in MLS ticket prices since the Inter Miami announcement has proven that, with tickets that typically go for around $30 reaching a staggering $300-$400 for a normal league game. His unrivalled influence on the game will likely see Major League Soccer’s largest growth in decades, and the impacts of that growth may be exactly what North America needs to see their footballing aspirations finally be taken seriously.