Lionel Messi to join MLS Side Inter Miami, rejects offer from Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi, the Argentine superstar, announced over the weekend that he plans to join Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami as a free agent, following his departure from French champions Paris St Germain (PSG).

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Despite a tempting contract offer from Saudi Arabia, Messi has chosen the American football scene, a move that has sent ripples through the global football community.

The mercurial forward played his final game for PSG the weekend before last and had been linked with a return to Barcelona, his previous club. However, the Spanish giants were constrained by LaLiga’s financial fair play rules and could not facilitate Messi’s return.

“I made the decision that I’m going to go to Miami,” Messi revealed in an interview with Mundo Deportivo and Sport newspapers, “If Barcelona didn’t work out, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more about my family.”

Messi, who has a record seven Ballon d’Or awards to his name and recently led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, is credited with winning the Ligue 1 title in his two seasons with PSG, as well as the French Super Cup in 2022.

This news has proven to be a significant boost for MLS, with a spokesperson welcoming Messi while acknowledging that work remained to finalise the details of the formal agreement.

“The (goat) is coming,” MLS tweeted, a reference to the acronym ‘greatest of all time’ and a testament to Messi’s status in the world of football.


The Argentine forward had expressed a desire to go to a club where he could eventually have an ownership stake, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. His forthcoming contract with Inter Miami is anticipated to lay the groundwork for this ambition following his retirement.

Additionally, Messi will receive a portion of the revenue from Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, which broadcasts the league’s games. This arrangement is expected to maximise his existing sponsorship deal with Adidas and could boost viewership on the Apple TV streaming platform given his global fan base.

Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal had formally offered Messi a potential deal, as part of the Gulf country’s push to attract the world’s top players. Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have already made similar moves.

Messi, however, was clear about his motivations, stating, “If it had been a question of money, I would have gone to Arabia or elsewhere where they offered me a lot of money.”

Inter Miami are co-owned by former England captain David Beckham, who was among the first major European stars to make the move to the MLS, lifting the MLS Cup twice with Los Angeles Galaxy.

Messi’s new venture does present its challenges, with Inter Miami currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. They dismissed coach Phil Neville last week after a poor season, a stark contrast to their sixth-place finish and qualification for the MLS Cup playoffs the previous year.

With Messi now poised to bring his unique talent to the MLS, the world watches to see if the Argentine maestro can transform the fortunes of Inter Miami and elevate the global profile of the American league.

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