The Argentinian great Lionel Messi says he will sign for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami after leaving French champions Paris St Germain, snubbing a lucrative offer in Saudi Arabia.
“I made the decision that I’m going to go to Miami. I still haven’t closed it 100 percent,” Messi said on Wednesday. “I’m still missing a few things, but we decided to go ahead.”
Inter Miami also teased the player’s arrival in a social media video featuring various rumours about the superstar’s next destination that ends with Messi’s name stylised in the club’s colours.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) June 7, 2023
Spanish football writer and Messi biographer Guillem Balague wrote in a BBC report earlier on Wednesday that the 35-year-old 2022 World Cup winner will reject an offer from Saudi side Al Hilal and is unable to rejoin his former club Barcelona due to Financial Fair Play (FFP) limitations.
The move to the United States will shock many in the game, as he was widely predicted to join to the increasingly ambitious Saudi Premier League to play alongside stars such Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
“But Messi was ultimately tempted to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami for a variety of reasons including lifestyle, and a deal with big brands that extends beyond football,” Balague wrote, adding that Messi already owns a house in Miami, which he currently rents out.
Balague says the Miami deal includes collaboration from brands including Adidas and Apple.
Inter Miami, which is co-owned by David Beckham and now has an Argentiniam interim coach in Javier Morales, have been struggling this season. They currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Signing the seven-time world player of the year would be a major boost for the club and US football more broadly. Should the deal with Miami go through, it will be the first time Messi has played outside Europe.
In two seasons at PSG, Messi won two French leagues and the French Champions Trophy. He scored 32 goals and made 35 assists in all competitions.
Messi scored in a 1-1 draw at Strasbourg a week ago to help PSG clinch a record-extending 11th French league title. By grabbing a 496th career league goal, the Argentinian also broke Ronaldo’s scoring record for Europe’s top five leagues.
His two-year contract with PSG ended in early June and was not renewed as relations soured between Messi and the club.
PSG fans have jeered Messi in the past couple of months as his form dipped after he helped Argentina win the World Cup.
Then relations with the club deteriorated last month when Messi was suspended by PSG after an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia. Messi has a commercial contract with Saudi Arabia to promote tourism in that country.
He had made an emotional farewell to Barcelona in 2021 after the club’s dire finances meant they could no longer afford to keep him.
Messi won 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and seven Spanish Cups during his 21 years at Barcelona, and is the Catalan club’s record scorer with 672 goals.