Lionel Messi: “I still don’t have it 100 percent closed or something is missing. But well, we decided to continue the path there.” (USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
It’s official. Superstar Lionel Messi announced on Wednesday that he will join Inter Miami CF.
In joint interviews and stories that were published interviews with Catalan daily newspapers, SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, Messi said: “I made the decision that I am going to go to Miami.”
Not surprisingly, there are details to be sewed up with his contract.
“I still don’t have it 100 percent closed or something is missing,” he said. “But well, we decided to continue the path there.”
Late Wednesday afternoon Major League Soccer issued a statement about Messi’s desire to play for Miami.
“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer this summer,” the statement said. “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.”
Messi admitted that he “really wanted” a second opportunity to play Barcelona, for whom he performed until 2021.
He added that he “very excited to be able to return” to Camp Nou.
Messi, who turns 36 on June 24, stated that after “having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had” in 2021, Messi “did not want to be in the same situation again: waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in the hands of others.”
His contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires on June 30.
Messi joining an MLS will be 16 years after Inter Miami part-owner David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007, which helped usher in a new era of teams acquiring foreign players.
Miami resides in the MLS Eastern Conference cellar.
Barcelona and a Saudi Arabia team were among Messi’s other possibilities.
There has been no official announcement from Inter Miami.
The 35-year-old Messi’s reputation precedes him as a scoring machine and someone who could set up teammates with his inhuman moves and talent. He played for Barcelona for two decades, leading the La Liga club to 10 Spanish titles and four UEFA Champions League crowns. He is also a seven-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.
After Barca endured a financial crisis in 2021, Messi joined Paris St-Germain.
In December, Messi led Argentina to his first World Cup championship.
The Athletic reported earlier this week that should Messi join Inter Miami, he could debut in the new Leagues Cup competition between Liga MX and MLS. Inter Miami are scheduled to play Mexico’s Cruz Azul at home on Friday, July 21 to start group stage play.