The Argentine confirmed that he chose a club without stars in its lineup: Inter Miami, an outsider in the MLS.
The primary transfer saga of the summer has ended, even though it's only the beginning of June! Lionel Messi has decided to sign a contract with Inter Miami. The Argentine reached a preliminary agreement with the American club and informed Barcelona that he would not return to the team. He has already announced that he will join the American club. What influenced Leo's decision?
PSG announced Messi's departure from the club at the end of the 2022/2023 season. The Argentine left Paris as a free agent. There was a real hunt for Leo, with the leading contenders being:
- Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal;
- His hometown club Barcelona;
- Beckham owns Inter Miami.
Why didn't it work out with Barcelona?
The player himself wanted to return to Catalonia the most. His father, Jorge Messi, reported this: "Leo wants to return to Barcelona, and I would also like him to return. We believe that Leo will be able to come back."
Leo's father even traveled to Barcelona, where he met with the president of the Blaugrana, Joan Laporta. They discussed Messi's potential transfer. Journalist Gerard Romero reported that La Liga approved the "viable plan" of the Catalan club. Barcelona significantly reduced their wage bill, which would have allowed them to sign a contract with Messi. However, later on, Mundo Deportivo, citing club sources, noted that it would be "tough" to sign the Argentine, even despite Laporta's meeting with Messi's father and the approved economic plan. Barcelona made an offer to Leo, but to finalize the agreement, the club had to fulfill the financial plan submitted to La Liga. It is not excluded that Messi would have had to wait until the end of the summer transfer window to move to Barça. Leo was not ready for such a step; he wanted to decide where to continue his career as soon as possible.
Is the option with Barcelona wholly ruled out?
When discussing his future, Messi's family could not reach a consensus. As journalist Joan Fontes pointed out, Messi's wife Antonella leans towards the option of Inter Miami. Messi himself and his father, Jorge, prefer Saudi Arabia. No one in the Messi family leaned toward the Barcelona option. Either no one wants to see Lionel in the Spanish team, or a similar opportunity is not available due to the financial problems of the Catalans. Although earlier, according to reports from Cadena Ser, Messi expressed a desire to play for Barça even for free.
According to the newspaper's information, Messi's father and Leo himself asked Al-Hilal and Inter Miami to help facilitate a transfer to Barcelona. How the clubs could have been involved in organizing the transfer is still being determined. The only option would have been a loan. L'Equipe reported such a possibility. Barça wanted Messi to move to Inter Miami and have the American club loan him to the Catalans for six or 18 months.
What are the conditions for Messi in Inter Miami?
In the end, Leo finally leaned toward the MLS option. He turned down Al-Hilal's offer. According to various sources, the Saudi club offered Messi a salary of €400-600 million annually. Then, according to journalist Miguel Rico, Messi rejected the option with Barcelona. He informed the Barcelona management that he would not return to the team.
What are the conditions for Messi's transfer to Inter Miami?
- He will receive a percentage of the revenue from new Apple+ subscribers who start watching MLS matches and content;
- He will start earning from the sale of certain Adidas products;
- He will have the opportunity to buy any MLS team after his career;
- €60 million per year;
- He will have the freedom to choose his coach at the club.
Leo wants to play in a competitive league to prepare well for the 2024 Copa America. In addition, relocating to Saudi Arabia did not appeal to Leo's family. Due to these factors, Messi chose Inter Miami. He also wanted to get rid of the pressure he experienced in Europe. The final straw was the behavior of PSG fans, who booed Messi as he left the club after his last game. It should be noted that there has yet to be any reliable information about the terms of Messi's contract with Inter Miami and his salary. A temporary loan to Barcelona is still viable - Inter owner David Beckham may accommodate Leo and release him after the season.
What is Inter Miami like?
Inter Miami is a club owned by David Beckham, founded in January 2018. It was expected that the club would start competing in 2020. On September 5, 2018, the club's name, "Inter Miami," and logo were officially unveiled. In May 2019, Beckham bought out Fuller's share. Inter Miami made its debut in the MLS on March 1, 2020. In its debut season, the club finished 10th in the Eastern Conference; the last position granted a playoff spot. However, Inter Miami failed to advance past the playoff preliminary round, losing to another league newcomer, Nashville, with a score of 0-3. In 2021, the team again failed to reach the playoffs. In the following season, the team reached the first round of the MLS Cup but lost to New York City (0-3). In the current championship, the club's performance could be better: 27th place out of 29 teams (15 points in 16 matches), last in the Eastern Conference. Messi will have to lift the club single-handedly.
Who will help Messi succeed in the MLS?
The Inter Miami squad is not impressive. But there are a few interesting names. For example, Ukrainian defender Serhiy Kryvtsov, who played for Shakhtar for 12 years (2010-2022), plays for the club. Inter Miami also features former Tottenham, Newcastle, and Galatasaray defender DeAndre Yedlin, as well as former forwards from the top 5 European leagues - Leonardo Campana (formerly of Wolverhampton) and Josef Martínez (formerly of Torino). There aren't many notable names, and the squad is valued at €34 million.
Several compatriots of Messi also play for Inter Miami: defender Franco Negri, midfielder Benjamin Kremerski, and forward Nicolás Stefanelli. And an Argentine, Javier Morales, will also coach Leo. But if Messi wants, he can quickly change him.
A film is also being made about the Argentine (also by Apple). So Leo's new life begins.
In the US, stars only matter slightly due to the league's development concept. It already brings success - there is unified management and a salary cap.