The greatest soccer player of his era, and perhaps the greatest of all time, comes to the United States for the twilight of his career. Lionel Messi, 36, has officially joined Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, the club announced in a statement Saturday.
His contract commits him to the team through the 2025 MLS season. Messi He will reportedly earn between $50 and 60 million. per year on a compensation package that includes a signing bonus and team equity.
“I am very excited to begin this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” he said in a statement. “This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project.”
Messi had revealed his plans to play for Miami last month and he was seen shopping with his family at a Miami area supermarket this week.
He is expected to join the team next week, which would put him on track to make his Inter Miami debut in a Concacaf League Cup match against Mexico’s Cruz Azul on July 21.
A soccer prodigy growing up in Argentina, Messi moved to Spain to sign with Barcelona at age 13 and soon became a talked-about young player. He made his first-team debut at the age of 16 and had a spectacular career, winning all the major trophies and six Ballon d’Ors as the best player in the world. He moved to Paris-St. Germain in 2021, where he won another Ballon d’Or, and his team dominated the French league, although they failed to win the Champions League.
He has been the leader of the Argentina national team almost since his debut in 2005, adding the final missing trophy to his collection when he won the World Cup with them last summer.
The consensus of fans and historians has been that his greatness as a player may only be equaled by Cristiano Ronaldo in his own era, and by Pelé and Diego Maradona of any era.
Messi’s signing completes what could be described as the quiet Barcelona-fication of Inter Miami that preceded his formal arrival. The teams business manager and your chief operations and facilities executive Both are ex-employees of Barcelona. Last month, Inter Miami announced that Messi’s former midfield partner at Barcelona, Sergio Busquets, would be their second notable signing of the summer.
Then, two weeks ago, Gerardo Martino, the Argentine known as Tata who had coached Messi at Barcelona, was hired as Inter Miami’s manager. In his introductory press conference, he spoke openly about working with Messi and Busquets, leaving little doubt that he saw his new challenge as more than just a meeting.
“Sometimes we associate the United States, Miami, they are linked to the idea of a vacation,” Martino said. This is not that. We want to compete.
“They are not players who are going to come here not to compete.”
The signing harkens back to 2007, when MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy signed the world’s most famous player, if not the best, David Beckham at age 32. Beckham played in Los Angeles for six years, winning two championships and giving the league unprecedented exposure. .
MLS has long talked about eventually matching the quality and visibility of the best leagues in the world. He will hope that Lionel Messi’s golden years will help propel him in that direction.