When could Lionel Messi make his debut for Inter Miami?
Expectation is on the rise in Florida with the news that Leo Messi is poised to sign a four-year deal with Inter Miami. When will the Argentine ace play his first game for the Herons?
Pending an official announcement, all signs point toward Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami this summer. A four-year spell in Major League Soccer will be the next chapter in an astonishing career of one the greatest players the game has ever seen. Messi, who will turn 36 on 24 June, will be celebrating his 40th birthday when his contract with the Florida-based franchise comes to an end.
In terms of honors won and career achievements, Messi is pretty much out on his own - he is the only player to have picked up seven Ballon d’or awards, holds the all-time goal scoring record in LaLiga (474) and with Argentina (102). His long-awaited success with the Albiceleste at the Qatar World Cup means that he is one of an elite group of players to have won every major collective and individual honor in the game.
Messi will head for Miami after two seasons in France with PSG. He decided against the option of renewing for a third year and leaves Paris after adding three winners’ medals to his vast collection - back-to-back Ligue 1 titles and the Trophée des Champions. His figures during his final season at PSG were decent enough - 21 goals in 41 games and of the 89 goals the team scored on their way to the title, Messi had a hand in 32 of them, scoring 16 himself and setting up the same number for his team mates.
In the US, he will be tasked with reviving a flailing Miami side, who are currently rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference table after 11 defeats in the first 16 games. With just four seasons in MLS under their belts, Miami are relative newcomers to the league and have only reached the playoffs once (finishing in 6th last year) but didn’t make it past the First Round. Still, there is plenty of time for the team to make up lost ground in this year’s campaign which is at the halfway stage.
When could Messi make his debut?
Messi must see out the remaining weeks of his contract with PSG, which expires on 30 June, before he can be registered with another club. He will spend around three weeks relaxing on holiday with his family before he is available to start work with his new team mates. However, there is a slight change to the schedule this year in MLS, which will pause after the regular season games on the weekend of 15-16 July to accommodate the 2023 Leagues Cup - a tournament between MLS clubs and their Liga MX counterparts.
Inter Miami go into the tournament in group South 3, alongside Cruz Azul and Atlanta United. If Messi’s move to Miami goes through and he remains injury-free, he could make his debut in the first Leagues Cup group game against Cruz Azul at the DRV PNK Stadium, Miami on Friday 21 July. It will be the franchise’s first game against Mexican opposition. The Herons are next in action four days later against Atlanta - the top two teams in each group go through to the knockout stage, which begins on 2 August. If they progress, Miami would face either the winners or runners-up from group South 2 (Orlando City, Santos Laguna, Houston Dynamo).
When could Messi make his MLS debut?
The league will be on hold by the time Messi is able to join which means the first opportunity he will have to play his first MLS game will be the home clash against Charlotte FC on Sunday 21 August.