Inter Miami president Jorge Mas says “Messi can make MLS one of the top three leagues in the world”.
The Inter Miami president spoke to El País about signing the World Cup winner and revealed exactly how he managed to do so.
Jorge Mas, the Cuban-American president of Inter Miami, sat down with El País in Florida, where he talked about the biggest transfer of the season: Lionel Messi to Inter Miami. Mas, at 60-years-old, has been in the boardroom of the MLS franchise since 2021 and is also in charge of the engineering firm, MasTec.
Mas has already had a hugely busy summer, bringing in Messi’s ex-Barça teammate Serio Busquets, as well as ex-blaugrana and Argentina coach, as well as Newell’s Old Boys fan, Tata Martino.
The date for the debut of world football’s biggest star is already confirmed: Messi will pull on the pink shirt for the first time on 21 July against Cruz Azul and ticket prices for all of Inter Miami’s games have gone through the roof, with plans for a new stadium already in the pipeline.
Mas wants Miami to be the home of US soccer
Mas highlighted that the idea of bringing Messi stateside was not a new one, with the concept first coming into being pre-pandemic: “In 2019 we started to think about how we could bring him to Miami, a global city. We want people, when they think of US soccer, to think about Miami.”
Despite the huge fees involved in bringing the player, Mas revealed that the idea of US football needed to be sold to Messi, calling it “the most important” aspect, before highlighting the economic potential the deal brings: “This is the biggest commercial market on the planet. Messi can make MLS one of the top three leagues in the world.”
The impact of the signing is undoubtedly something that has rocked the world, with Mas claming that only the arrivals of Pelé and Beckham to US soccer can compare: “Messi will take it to another level, he is coming here excited to leave his mark and he can do so with even more than just football”, he said.
Mas didn’t want Messi to feel ‘pressured’
He also spoke about the social advantages for Messi himself, saying that the player will be closer to home, “in his hemisphere” of the globe and “with almost the same time zone as Rosario”.
Mas then revealed just what the process was of flirting with Messi and his camp in order to be able to propose a deal that could be negotiated: “It took three years”, he said, “one and a half years was really intense. There were a lot of conversations with Jorge [Messi’s father and agent]. I saw it all done at the end of May. David [Beckham] would speak to Leo, only about football, because he was playing in Paris. We didn’t want him to feel pressured. We had spoken in Barcelona, Miami, Rosario, Doha... I spent the entire World Cup in Qatar watching Argentina. To close the deal, the Apple contract was very important.”
‘Two or three players’ will join Inter Miami
Mas says he doesn’t know the specifics, but did divulge the information that “the conversations with Apple are going very well and the interests are aligning. If football in the US grows, he will benefit. It’s fair.” Adidas also have a hand in the deal, with Messi receiving money “for the sale of shirts”. MLS were “key” in helping with the sponsors of this highly unusual and complicated deal, but Mas assures the clubs “did not put in money”.
Sergio Busquets has already signed for the club, a deal which Mas says was “important” as it is “essential to surround Messi with players of his level” and also admits that “two or three” players are set to come in, including the potential signing of Jordi Alba, who “has spoken to” Mas.
Will Inter Miami get a new stadium?
Right now, Inter Miami play their home games at a stadium that fits just 18,000 fans and is 40km from the centre of the city, but Mas says that a 30,000 seater arena in in the works, which will cost the club $400,000,000 and will be opened in the autumn of 2025.
The fans inside the stadium should not fret over the sharp rise in ticket prices which Mas says he will try to stop. “It’s a city of working men and women. It’s not just a place for the rich. We want the fans who are with us from the beginning to be able to enjoy themselves. The tickets will go up in price, but there will also be more of them. What happened with the first game is that they only released the first thousand and the resale value shot up. I’m not a fan of the secondary market, but it is what it is.”