David Yagudayev, Arts and Culture Editor
After receiving numerous offers from many clubs and being linked to teams like Al Hilal, FC Barcelona, and Inter Miami, Lionel Messi has chosen to join Inter Miami, a team that was arguably among the weakest in Major League Soccer (MLS) at the time. The World Cup winner declined a staggering $436 million per year offer from Al Hilal, while several other stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Neymar Jr., opted to join the Saudi Pro League. Instead, Messi signed with Inter-Miami, agreeing to a $60 million per year contract along with a long-term equity stake in Inter Miami CF. However, there were many other players involved in securing Messi’s move to the MLS. Reportedly, Apple and Adidas will share a portion of their revenue with Messi. The former FC Barcelona player brought along former teammates Sergio Busqets and Jordi Alba, who are world-class players in their own right, bolstering Inter-Miami’s midfield and defense respectively. Not only is Inter-Miami’s team becoming a lot stronger, they are expected to become a lot richer. Inter-Miami made around $56 Million in revenue last year. Jorge Mas, the owner of the club, expects the club to double this number this year because of Messi’s arrival.
In less than two months since joining Inter Miami CF, he has already secured the coveted Leagues Cup trophy and is on track to win the prestigious US Open Cup if the team defeats Houston Dynamo on September 27. Messi inspired a team that was in 14th place at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference Standings and transformed their game to play like champions. In only nine games, Messi has scored 11 goals and made 3 assists. Such statistics are difficult to comprehend for a 36-year-old newcomer to a last-place team. However, the player is Lionel Messi.
Messi’s move to America and Inter Miami CF is already changing the face of American soccer and the MLS league. Some pundits even say that Messi joining the MLS is the most important arrival in American sports history and may potentially become the biggest star in American sports history. Ticket prices to see Inter Miami CF games have skyrocketed since Messi’s arrival, and with good reason. Despite being 36 years old, Messi remains an incredibly talented and mesmerizing player to witness live. The seven-time Ballon-d’Or winner is a rare and unique player, of a caliber we will likely not witness for many decades. Unfortunately, as he ages, he will likely become more injury-prone and decrease in level of ability. The upcoming years could potentially be the last few years we see Messi performing at his current level, and the fans will definitely savor every minute he is on the pitch.
The United States has had many world-class star players in the MLS over the years, such as David Bekham, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, none are expected to have the same level of impact that Lionel Messi is estimated to have on MLS and American Soccer.