Messi to join Inter Miami after Barça return falls through
MLS awaits Lionel Messi. The Argentinean ruled out the option of a move to Saudi Arabia to accept a lucrative deal with David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
Messi will spend next season in Major League Soccer. That was the only viable option left open to the Argentinean, after a potential return to his former club Barça proved financially impossible. The only other alternative on the table, was a proposed move to Al-Hilal, who were reported to have offered the player a contract for $500 million a year. But it appears that Messi was not tempted by the opportunity to play out his twilight years in Saudi Arabia.
After informing PSG that he would leave the club this month on completion of his contract (and deciding against an automatic option to renew for one year), the initial plan was to return to Barcelona - in spite of all of the difficulties the Catalan club would face to pull off the operation. Staying in line with LaLiga’s strict financial fair play rules was always going to be a problem for Barça, who are restricted by the 40% rule and the salary limit that the league imposes on them. It basically means that for every million euros of income that Barça have been able to set aside, they can only spend 400,000 euros. Some reports claim that Messi’s father Jorge looked into a way of striking a deal that would allow the player to spend the 2023/24 season at Barça before moving on next summer but it appears that too, was just not possible.
In comparison, joining David Beckham’s Inter Miami is a slightly more straightforward process. It is believed that Messi is set to sign a four-year contract which will tie him to the club until 2027. The operation extends far beyond the Florida-based franchise and involves the entire competition to the point that Inter Miami offer would include, according to The Athletic, both a percentage of profits gained from MLS Season Pass television subscriptions plus a cut of the profits that Adidas stand to gain from his arrival in the MLS.
MLS television rights of the are in the hands of Apple, who paid 2.5 billion dollars to the North American League to secure a ten-year contract. Apple TV+, incidentally, announced this week that it will broadcast a new, four-part docuseries looking back at Messi’s victory in the Qatar World Cup with Argentina. Messi’s own sponsorship links with Adidas stretch back to 2006. The German sportswear brand has kit contracts with all 29 of the MLS franchises through an 830 million dollar sponsorship deal until 2030.
Inter Miami meanwhile, has even set a date for Messi’s possible debut. The Argentinean could make his first appearance in the Leagues Cup meeting with Liga MX giants Cruz Azul on 21 July at the DRV PNK Stadium in Miami.
So it looks like Camp Nou may never get another chance to witness the club legend who made history at Barcelona again - at least not out on the pitch. But a whole new audience in North America will be able to catch one of the greatest players in the history of the game.